Chastened All Blacks plan to muscle up for rematch
Published 11/08/2015 | 02:30
A first loss to Australia in four years was a bitter pill to swallow for the All Blacks but conceding that they were edged by their trans-Tasman rivals in the physical stakes has rubbed especially raw.
One of the keys to Australia's surprise 27-19 win in Sydney last Saturday was their unbridled aggression at the breakdown, where back-row ball pilferers David Pocock and Michael Hooper proved a menace throughout.
The All Blacks have pledged to right all wrongs during the rematch at fortress Eden Park on Saturday, however, where they have not lost to the Wallabies in nearly 30 years.
"Everybody has taken it personally," said lock Brodie Retallick.
"It's something we haven't got right and it's been a problem. If you need to react or if you need to clean the ruck, we need the people to do it.
"They were probably a bit more hungry than us and beat us in a lot of those places we would have liked to have won.
"We need to get our roles right around the breakdown and react when we're not in our structure.
"The closest people need to react and get there quicker than the Aussies did last Saturday. If we can do that, we can obviously play a bit more rugby."
The term 'inquisition' is rarely used in the context of an All Blacks homecoming but local media have been very direct about their disappointment as the reigning champions build for their World Cup title defence.
Long-serving fly-half Dan Carter, usually beyond all reproach, has come in for criticism for misfiring in Sydney and a lower back injury early in the match to Sonny Bill Williams was not enough to spare the centre from some harsh assessments of his subdued game.
"The All Blacks aren't quite as good as the win-loss record and ranking and PR avalanche makes out," one local columnist fumed in the 'New Zealand Herald'.
The All Blacks are a different beast at Eden Park, however. And, with the Bledisloe Cup on the line, the prized annual trophy contested between the nations, few would dare forecast anything less than a big improvement from the home side.
"Our reviews are always honest and straight to the point and we know what we need to do to fix our problems," flanker Liam Messam said.
"It's straight up and down - as an All Black pack we need to be a lot more physical."
Meanwhile, Australia lock Dean Mumm has promised that the Wallabies' scrum will build on the competitive performance they produced at the set-piece in Sydney - one of the rocks on which they built a first victory over New Zealand in 11 attempts.