Continued set piece improvement a goal for All Blacks pack

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Hooker Codie Taylor said the performance against Wales, especially the lineout, had been more like what the All Blacks wanted to achieve.

Having Sam Whitelock's experience in the role was a help. They wanted to emphasise accuracy in that area because, if they were not accurate, it killed their game so much, he said.

"Our set piece, you can live and die by it. We got it right last week and we want to continue that," he said.

The lineout struggled in the second Test against Argentina and the two South African Tests in the Rugby Championship but had been much more stable against Wales.

"What we have found out is that you have got to have a point of difference in some areas of your game," Taylor said.

"I think the northern teams do that well with their lineout specials so, we've taken a leaf out of their book and taken some opportunities ourselves.

"We're going to continue doing that. Test matches are tough tests as they are, so if we can have an element of surprise it definitely helps you get the edge," he said.

Taylor said there could be elements of Italy's game that would be a surprise given they had new coaching staff, headed by former All Black fullback Kieran Crowley, but they had always been a physical side.

It was their first Test of a new season, and they would be excited about the opportunity of playing the All Blacks, he said.

"[Their tight five] are big men who run hard and straight, and they are tough to stop when they get a roll-on. From what I've seen, they back themselves at lineout time, and they drive well.

"That'll be an area they probably want to continue and try to get some ascendancy in. It's up to us to stop it," he said.

For the All Blacks, the Test was another opportunity to develop their game, especially as they will face Ireland and France before completing their 2021 campaign.

Taylor said fellow hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho had come in and added energy to the tight five.

"He's a big boy, strong, powerful and he's taken every opportunity he's been given which is awesome to see. It keeps us older fellows on our toes, which is good as well. I'm just super proud of the way he has come into this group and really added to the black jersey," he said.


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