McLeod still wants one-percenters nailed on defence


Australia's ability to pick up tries had been a feature throughout their three Tests and was highlighted again on Sunday, especially with their sniping through and around the ruck area.


McLeod said it was a strength of Australia's play to create fast ball that allowed halfback Tate McDermott to snipe.


Pressure had been expected in that play, and the All Blacks had lifted their game, but Australia still managed to find some space, and the New Zealanders would be seeking to tighten that up more.


The fact Australia had again been able to run in tries against them was concerning.


But, overall, he was delighted. He said there were a couple of things they wanted to work on defensively in the lead-up to the game. The players had achieved that and played with confidence in those areas.


He said they believed there were some mitigating circumstances to the Jordie Barrett red card incident.



Explaining those, McLeod said Barrett had won the space in the air and, in previous cases, it was the role of the person underneath to be aware of that.


He said both captain Ardie Savea and hooker Codie Taylor had woken up on Monday morning feeling well and symptom-free after head knocks that forced them from the field. They will go through protocols during the week to see how they are doing before any decisions about their availability for the first Test against Argentina.


He expected Argentina would look to play to their strengths with their big forwards looking to carry hard.


It was important to stop them by trying to dominate those collisions. Their backs had good footwork in contact and were able to evade well.


"Their halves run a really good game plan and make good decisions and put the ball into space. A different challenge for us from Australia but we're going to get that from the next four games so it's something we're aware of there," he said.


With the transfer midweek to the Gold Coast, it was important for the preparation to be focused on getting bodies right before their flight and then, once doing that, it was a case of getting settled as quickly as possible upon arrival.


McLeod said news of the rest of the country outside Auckland returning to Covid level 2 was welcome, especially if the Bunnings Provincial Championship can get up and running.


"There are a number of positions we need players to be playing, particularly in the locking and hooking department. So for those fringe players to be playing it's 100 percent [important]. They can't just come in cold, so we definitely want the competition up and running," he said.



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