We want to get better all the time - Plumtree

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The first step of that process in 2021 starts with Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday in the first of three Tests, the second and third against Fiji, in the Steinlager Series.


All Blacks assistant coach John Plumtree said after the turmoil of lockdowns and hastily arranged alternative programmes of 2020, there was a more settled feel to 2021.


"Last year was an absolute nightmare – this year has just been beautiful, being able to watch a full Super without being interrupted, having our leaders' meetings through the year, and getting prepared properly. We come in here and feel so much more organised," he said.


"Last year everything seemed rushed and hopefully it [the settled 2021] will carry on and we won't get affected by Covid again in this country," he said.


Injuries to experienced players, especially in the midfield, had forced the selectors to cast a wider net, a timely chance to assess talent two years out from the next World Cup.


Everyone in the squad would get some time on the field during the series, how much Plumtree didn't know, but they would be building towards the Bledisloe Cup series.


There was also a desire to achieve consistency and improvement towards regaining the No1 status in the world game.

"Fozzie [coach Ian Foster] has challenged us all to be better. It's not about a unit…it's about everyone needs to step up. We want to get better all the time – that's what this jersey demands.


"It's the legacy of the All Blacks to keep growing and getting better. The leaders have done a great job of reminding everyone of that. You could see in terrible conditions today at training just how intense it was. We all want to step up and grow and get better," he said.


Tonga was the opposition this week, but so far as the All Blacks were concerned, it was a Test match in which their own game was most important.


"It's great we're playing the Tongans at Mt Smart. We had a beautiful week with the Pasifika people last week, and I'm sure they'll welcome us out there again. We're just thankful the Tongan boys are here and, afterwards, we'll have a drink together and a great time," he said.


In his area of responsibility, the forwards, Plumtree said he always wanted to see the All Blacks play well, whether he was the coach or not.


"There are high standards and expectations among the pack, and we've just got to make sure we're organised, and we're clinical, and the rest will happen naturally.


"There is heaps of competition amongst the forwards, and each individual knows that when they go out on that park at the weekend, they're playing something way bigger than them," he said.


Get your tickets for the Steinlager Series HERE.


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