All Blacks out to repair tainted image
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The All Blacks warned Australia will face an intense physical battle in the Bledisloe Cup decider but vowed to stay on the right side of the law.
The world champions were keen to place the emphasis on discipline for Saturday’s crunch match in Auckland after lock Scott Barrett was handed a three-match suspension for a shoulder charge in last week’s shock 26-47 loss to the Wallabies.
“We lost the physical battle and we’ve got to be better at that [but] that doesn’t mean you go out there and just be physical at all costs,” assistant coach Ian Foster told reporters.
“The most physical players are the smart ones who know how to accelerate into contact, they’re accurate with clean-outs and they do it within the bounds of the law – if you don’t then you’re going to expose yourself to judgement.”
The All Blacks are known for bouncing back hard after a defeat, dishing out a brutal beating to Ireland in Dublin on November 2016 to avenge the hosts’ historic first-ever victory over New Zealand in Chicago two weeks earlier.
But veteran lock Sam Whitelock said his side could not afford to let intensity slide into ill-discipline.
“We want to play hard, but we’ve also got to play fair,” he said.
“There are a thousand different cameras and different angles, things you probably got away with in the past is something that’s not going to happen now.”
Meanwhile commenting on Barrett’s red card All Blacks hooker Dane Coles said that it was very hard to stop a player, low down, so close to the line but at the same time they knew if they hit a player in the head they were going to ‘get done’.
“We know if we get to the head you’re gone,” Coles revealed.
“It’s up to all rugby players to make sure you’ve got your technique spot on because if you don’t that’s what’s going to happen. We know the law so we’ve got to embrace it and find ways to make sure we don’t smack someone in the head,”