Read insists All Blacks not on revenge mission
It is the game that dare not speak its name, at least in the corner of London colonised by the All Blacks this week.
The humbling turn of events played out for the men in black before a disbelieving Twickenham a year ago, when the world's best team shipped 38 points to England, will play no part in New Zealand's preparations for Saturday's game, but No 8 Kieran Read acknowledged that it will be sitting in the back of many of the players' minds.
At yesterday's training session, last year's defeat – the All Blacks' sole loss since 2011 – was not mentioned and will remain untouched for the rest of the week. The Tuesday session traditionally sets the tone for the All Blacks' week and neither Steve Hansen nor any of the coaching staff allowed minds to be cast back a year.
"It can affect you if you start chasing tails," said Read. "(The thought of getting revenge) hasn't been used at all. There are enough people in the squad who were here last year who have it in the back of their mind.
"Certainly you don't like losing in a black jersey but a lot of things have changed in the last 12 months. It is a completely different team in a different place right now."
The team is named tomorrow and is expected to include Dan Carter for his 100th cap, although Aaron Cruden is pressing the great man for the No 10 shirt; New Zealand's performance improved when Cruden came on against France on Saturday. Carter will become the fifth All Black to reach three figures and the landmark will, suggested Read give his team-mates something else to spur them on.
"You look at the man Dan is, he is someone who will put the team above anything," said Read. "In the back of my mind certainly, if he's playing you want to do well for him."
Read is sure to start, having become perhaps the best back-row in the world over the past year. He scored his 12th All Black try in Paris on Saturday as they made it a dozen wins from as many outings since Twickenham.
They are two wins – they play Ireland on Sunday week – from an unbeaten year, and also from a well-earned chance to put their feet up.
Next year, the New Zealand management want to keep their men on the field a while longer and add another fixture to the autumn schedule via a money-spinning game in the United States.
The All Blacks played in Japan ahead of this European tour and while the players did not object to that, there is a sense that a game in the USA, on top of their already demanding schedule in a sport where wear and tear is inevitable, may be a stopover too far for the players. (© Independent News Service)