All Blacks set clear goal for Scotland showdown
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: All Blacks assistant coach Jason Ryan said that his team are “never satisfied” after a big win, as they prepare to take another step up against Scotland this weekend.
After an up-and-down international season, which has included historic losses to Ireland and Argentina, the All Blacks seemed to turn a corner against Wales.
While the All Blacks are always somewhat under pressure or facing scrutiny, the Northern Tour was always going to be crucial after a far-from-convincing win over Japan the week before.
But the men in black put on a show at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, potentially their best performance of the year, as they recorded a comfortable 55-23 win.
The All Blacks are now unbeaten in their last five Tests, and some teams would be thrilled with that record, but the players are being “challenged” to build on these performances.
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“We’re never satisfied,” Ryan told reporters.
“Just really challenging the group at the moment to just keep building on performances and habits.
“That’s one thing we’ve really challenged, I think, in the last three months – just not being satisfied where we’re at.
“Understanding that with international rugby and where it’s at at the moment, teams are getting better so that’s a focus for us, to be fair.”
The All Blacks put 55-points on the 2021 Six Nations champions, including doubles to Codie Taylor and Aaron Smith, but made sure to have an honest review session after the big win.
Ryan believes these sessions are crucial if the team is “serious about growing our habits” and improving ahead of a new challenge.
“Doesn’t matter if it’s one point of 55 if we’re really serious about growing our habits as an All Blacks team,” he said.
“Score’s irrelevant if you’re being honest every week. We’ve been really thorough on that and making sure we’re not getting ahead of ourselves.
“I think the first thing you do in a review is have a look at what you previewed and I think that we got a couple of things quite right there and a few things we need to work on.
“We want to be consistent and we know that Scotland will bring a different challenge.
“[They’re a] very good defensive team and awesome around the contact so it’ll be another step up and we’ll need to step up with that.”
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While the All Blacks’ form throughout 2021 has come under fire, the end-of-year tour is an important marker for a side with World Cup ambitions.
The Rugby World Cup starts in early September, with the All Blacks taking on hosts and arguably tournament favourites France at Stade de France.
“We’re really focused on each day,” Ryan said. “
“We know it’s going to come around quick and there’s not a lot of Test matches before we’re into that so I think building some cohesion and just concentrating on getting things right.
“It’s no secret we’ve shown a few combinations here and there in the last wee while and we feel we’re trending in the right spot but we’re just really focused on getting things right each day.
“I think that’s important otherwise you lose touch.”
The All Blacks’ crunch clash with Scotland at Murrayfield kicks off late on Sunday night (New Zealand time), and this is their second last Test of the year.
New Zealand will face England in an international blockbuster at Twickenham to finish their season a week later.
By Finn Morton, Rugbypass