“We’re expecting a really rough Test” - Plumtree

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After the physical contest in Dunedin at the weekend, assistant coach John Plumtree said Fiji would have more confidence in taking their game to the All Blacks.


"If you look at the first game [Tonga], it was a slightly different hit out than the second one [Fiji]. We're pretty sure the third one is going to have more intensity about it.


"They've had a game up their sleeve, and so have we.


"We got tested in a few areas, so you'd have to say the last one now is going to have a fair bit more intensity about it as well. We're definitely expecting it to go up a couple of notches.


"You could see their forwards worked hard in that match. They tested us in some areas, which was good for us. You could see a lot of them come from European clubs where they're well-coached and well-drilled.


"There were some pretty sore bodies. The boys knew they were in a Test match.


"It's the perfect preparation, that's exactly what we want. We're expecting a really tough Test," he said.



Plumtree was unwilling to be specific about what they were doing to address the issues at the breakdown.


"I don't really want to tell you what areas we're working on, because if I tell you, I'll be telling them, and they'll know, won't they? So, I'll keep that one to myself," he said.


It might be tempting to have a dress rehearsal for the Bledisloe Cup contests that will open the Test season proper next month with a full-strength side in Hamilton, but Plumtree said players who had to be tried when returning from injury meant they were still not fixed on their No1 team.


"There are opportunities there for us if we want it, but to be honest, we don't really know what that is yet," he said.


"We've still got a few boys to come back in, so by the time we select the team, and Saturday night, there would've been some guys that would've had a bit more time than others, and that's just natural over the three games.


"Some guys need more time than others. Some had bigger Super Rugby seasons. Some guys are carrying little niggles. So we put all those factors into place and select the team," he said.


Extra consideration was keeping players' well-being in the backs of their minds.  That would ensure that when the Bledisloe Cup arrives, they have a fully fit and healthy squad.



There was still competition in the group, and there were still positions open. There was a desire to get some combinations settled. But there were still some other selections they were unsure about.


"And that's fantastic for us because we know we've got some quality right through the team, and the boys are fighting and working hard for competition in the pack. It's really healthy for us. Selection meetings [go] on for [the] wee hours, which is great," he said.


Lock Scott Barrett said the players were aware of the challenge the confident Fijians would present.


"I think every fixture that the All Blacks come into, teams are going to be coming at us, especially upfront. So we always have to front up there, and we're well aware of that.


"The physicality's a non-negotiable of Test rugby, and All Blacks rugby," he said.


"This All Black jersey demands guys to be at their best and [to] perform each week, and if you don't, there's a guy champing at your heels, pretty keen to wear that jersey too."


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