Unbeaten campaign would be the ‘cherry on top’ - Laulala

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Tighthead prop Nepo Laulala said finishing the five-game stint in Australia unbeaten would be special not only for the players but for the families they were away from for so long as a result of Covid-19.

 

"It would be the cherry on top if we get the 'w' [win] this week and make our families and country proud," he said.

 

"Just getting used to running into brick walls. It's like an actual brick wall when you try to run through it. It's always an arm wrestle against the Africans, and these are the games where you clearly see what you need to work on as well. It was tough but more satisfying than big winning margin games.

 

"We were very fortunate to win that game, it could have gone either way," he said.

 

Laulala said their review showed there were aspects of the scrummaging they needed to sort out themselves, and it was important they learned from Saturday's experience.

 

"We've got some plans in place that we've already talked about. I'm looking forward to this weekend and hopefully I'm in the playing team and we can put those plans into action," he said.

"It's pretty cool. It's hard to come by good scrummaging opposition, and when you come up against a pack that just want to kill you, just want to go straight through you, it's a different feeling, especially after the game.

 

"It's so rewarding when you get the win. These kind of sore feelings now post-game, it's almost like a reward for me. It's more satisfying that coming out feeling good."

 

Laulala said he missed playing against the Africans at Super Rugby level because of the approach of their teams and the size of their players and, while playing the New Zealand franchises was also tough, it was good to play against different styles of rugby.

 

He felt the occasion had got in the way of them seeing opportunities. That was apparent when viewing aspects of the game in their reviews.

 

The All Blacks take on South Africa in the final Fortinet Rugby Championship game at CBUS Stadium on the Gold Coast on Saturday 2 October.

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