Re-jigged loose forward combination up for the challenge

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Ioane said Australia's loose forwards were impressive in Melbourne and as a changed New Zealand combination, they had to focus on doing their job for the All Blacks. If magic moments happened, hopefully, they were on the right side of them.

 

By doing their job, Ioane and Papali'i would allow returning No8 Savea to play in the manner that made him so dangerous.

 

"I'm looking forward to what we can do on Saturday night," Papali'i said.

 

The All Blacks were leaving no stone unturned in their preparation as they expected a strong response from Australia to their 37-39 loss in Melbourne last week.

 

Ioane said it was always special to get a start in a Test, and he acknowledged how well Shannon Frizell and Scott Barrett [both injured] had been playing this season.

 

"You can't be mad at the coaches for that. I've just got to take my opportunities this week, give my best for the team and do my job," he said.

 

Papali'i offered a forward's perspective on the development of midfield replacement Roger Tuivasa-Sheck this year.

 

 

He had grown massively in the All Blacks environment and was a sponge from the time he joined the side, soaking up all the players had to give and share.

 

"Now he's at the stage where he's helping us out with things with his ideas and pointers to make us better."

 

Tuivasa-Sheck had adopted a team-first attitude, and if he wasn't in a team, he set about doing his bit to have the 23 named players ready for game-day action, he said.

 

The losses the All Blacks have suffered in 2022 had been something of a blessing in disguise from Papali'i's point of view. They came into a team with a winning mentality but having losses this year was something new for the younger players to cope with, something those players, and New Zealand fans, were not used to.

 

"It's us finding our feet again with a lot of new blood coming in and some boys getting more opportunities. I think it's more of a wake-up call. This is Test footy. This is the best of the best, and you can't leave any stone unturned training-wise.

 

"You've got to nail your one and two percenters off field leading into games and that is where it all matters. I think it has been a good learning curve for us."

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