Competition returns at key time for All Blacks

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Lock Scott Barrett, who didn't play the last game against Namibia said having Brodie Retallick back early, after his recovery from his shoulder dislocation, had relieved some of the pressure on the locking group.


There was competition among them again for starting spots and that was great, he said.


Barrett said he was concentrating more on his locking role during preparation for games, but if selected, he also spent some time towards the end of the week brushing over the blindside flanker's role in case he was required to step into that position later in games.


He reiterated the emphasis that had gone into tackling technique at Tuesday's training, especially for the bigger players with larger frames as they attempted to cope with opponents with lower heights who were falling in tackle situations.


"It's a risky area for us and we addressed that and made some changes to break habits.


"We're not going to concede metres but it's just recognising cues when players are ducking their heads and even falling at you and your feet. It's almost like a rugby league flop. You're just getting to the ground, you've got your hand at 45 degrees so it takes away any swinging motion. It's a couple of simple things like that," he said.


It was also recognising the need to make quick decisions in those situations.


Wing George Bridge, who has enjoyed playing with plenty of opportunities in his earlier Tests said Sunday's game against Namibia had been a difference experience.


The ball hadn't come his way as often as in previous games. He had been trying to get involved in play but it was the first game he played in a while where he didn't get as much action as he would have liked.


He felt the team was in a good place ahead of the Italy game, and that was down to the time they had for preparation before the Canada and Namibian games.


There had been some strong training runs but he was feeling fit and admitted to being heavier than at any stage of his career although he was carrying it well and it hadn't compromised his speed.


The increasee was a result of the high performance programme and gym work he had been doing.


That had been helpful in dealing with the size of opponents in defence, as even the Namibian side had some big players, and that was only going to continue in the playoffs.


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