Tonga game special for Lienert-Brown

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The 37-Test mid-fielder said the All Blacks didn't get the opportunity to play against the Pacific Island nations too often. He had played against Samoa and being half-Samoan that had been special for him

 

"To play Tonga will be awesome. What we do know about them is they will bring their physicality, this game will mean a lot to them and I'm sure there will be a lot of Tongan fans at the ground, there might be more than All Blacks fans even. It's very special. I'm half-Samoan so to be playing another Pacific Island team means a lot to me."

 

He was also looking forward to renewing his midfield combination with Ryan Crotty who, along with Sonny Bill Williams, had helped him a lot in his development.

 

"He's [Crotty] very detailed in the way he goes about his work and always keeps you honest and challenges you which is awesome. That's made me better as a player and person so I always enjoy having him around.

 

"I guess I've been around for a while now and played a few Tests, which I'm very lucky to have been able to do. It's not your age [which is important], it's probably the years you spend in here. Every year you learn a lot and I've been really lucky to under Sonny and Crotts, they're very wise men themselves and I've learnt a lot of them and obviously in the environment as well," he said.

 

While Crotty had described Lienert-Brown as a deep thinker he said he did like to feel things and think deeply about them.

 

Lienert-Brown said he enjoyed the way the All Blacks worked all the time at improving.

 

"We're always challenged. It doesn't matter if you haven't played a Test, or if you've played 100 Tests, you're challenged to be honest [with each other]. There is no hierarchy we just want the best for each other, so Lukey [Luke Jacobson] could be telling Reado [captain Kieran Read] if he doesn't see something right, to do that right.

 

"You might not say that, but they do encourage that. They want everyone being honest and open and challenging each other to be the best," he said.

 

Having been in a position to assess the methods of players inside him, Lienert-Brown commented on the effects of the side's first five-eighths, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga and Josh Ioane.

 

Each had been described by teammates as 'laid back' or 'relaxed'.

 

"We do see that calmness but they do have the ability to flick a switch. I think that is the beauty of them three, they can just be themselves outside of rugby but when it comes to meetings, trainings and on the field, obviously, they just flick that switch and go into game mode.

 

"They are not frantic at all. As a 10 you can't be frantic, you've got to be calm in calling the shots so I think they've got a really good balance in how they live their lives and go about their rugby," he said.

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