All Blacks captain Sam Cane has had to cope with more illness again this week with locks Sam Whitelock and Tupou Vaa’i unavailable.
Cane said there was always a day or two of soreness and a little mental fatigue after a Test match, and that could make it difficult to get up a week after getting a good win.
“That didn’t last long [after Saturday’s 42-19 win],” he said.
“As soon as we got down here, got settled in and stuck into the review, it is always quite energising highlighting, and looking at areas where we can be better, and where we need to make some shifts,” he said.
Cane said playing at the level they did in the first Test would not be good enough to win in Dunedin. The assured dry and calm of playing beneath the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium in mid-winter would need better skills in what would be a faster game.
However, the side won’t have Whitelock’s experience to call on after he was diagnosed with delayed onset concussion.
Cane said Whitelock’s absence wasn’t ideal.
“Sammy was awesome in the weekend, he became the second most capped All Black of all time which was hugely impressive.
“We will no doubt miss his leadership and what he brings.
“Tupou had been playing well all Super Rugby and was hanging out for his opportunity, so it’s a tough pill for him to have to swallow. It’s almost got to the stage where anyone who hasn’t had it, it is lurking and going to strike soon soon, and poor Toops had to get it this week.
“But, man, in terms of replacements we’ve got a 40-odd Test All Black in Patrick Tuipulotu to call in. He trained with us last week, so he’s up to speed,” he said.
Whitelock had run the line out and that mantle would now fall to Brodie Retallick, a role he filled last year while Whitelock was on paternal duty during the Rugby Championship.
With 90 Tests it was unusual he hadn’t filled that duty more often, but he had plenty of experience in it during Super Rugby.
The continuing impact of Covid was something the players had learned to cope with over the past 18 months, it wasn’t a new phenomenon.
“It’s impressive the way it doesn’t fluster the boys, they just get on and know that someone else will step up,” he said.
Cane said there was no pressure on players to rush back into playing after suffering Covid. Returning players, David Havili, Jack Goodhue and Will Jordan were being looked after in their return.
They would each have boxes to tick to be available for selection.
Cane said while Ireland might have players out from the first Test side, they were looking to build depth so the players who got the chance to play would be looking to step up, just as would be the case with the All Blacks.
“We were lucky we managed to have a real good 20 minutes in the back end of the first half when we put some points on, but if you look at the rest of the Test if was fairly even.
“We know they’ll come out and will have lifted their game from last week,” he said.