All Black star rubbishes 'B-team' talk
REACTION: The All Blacks aren’t looking for excuses after their shock Bledisloe Cup loss, with hooker Dane Coles insisting they didn’t play a “B” team against the Wallabies in Brisbane.
After retaining the trophy with a record win in the third Test in Sydney, the New Zealanders left out two-try hero Richie Mo’unga and bustling wing Caleb Clarke in a reshuffled backline.
With four debutants in the All Blacks matchday squad, the revved-up Australians posted a 24-22 victory.
Coles, who was also on the sidelines, bristled at the suggestion they had taken the Wallabies lightly by not picking all of their stars and said those players selected had earned their spots.
“We don’t really feel like there’s a first-choice player, or however you want to put it,” the veteran hooker said on Monday.
“Whoever is selected is the best 23 and it’s the same for those selected for this week.
“We don’t have a hierarchy – we have full confidence in whoever gets the job to do it well.
“We don’t see it as an A team or B team, we’re one team.”
After four successive Tests against Australia, the All Blacks will face Argentina on Saturday at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium.
It’s the Pumas’ first match of the Tri-Nations after two warm-up games against an Australia A outfit.
“It’s exciting facing another opposition, got a bit more homework,” Coles said.
“We will take the learnings from the weekend and get better from it and face a new team which is a little unknown, but they will be a very physical team.
“They’ve got some outstanding players and are looking sharp and ready to go.”
One “learning” the All Blacks will take is on their tackling technique, after prop Ofa Tuuangafasi was sent off for a high tackle.
Australia’s Lachie Swinton suffered the same fate in the Suncorp Stadium match.
Coles said the New Zealanders needed to be better to avoid such costly cards, adding that discipline was an area they had identified to improve in their match review.
“We do a lot of tackling practice in the week and it’s only a split second to make that decision but we just have to lower our sights and targets to not get those red cards again,” he said.