Wary All Blacks train behind closed doors
NEW ZEALAND adopted a guarded approach to their first full training yesterday ahead of Saturday's Test against Ireland, with the majority of the session kept closed and away from inquisitive eyes.
Nonetheless, there were still various pointers to be extracted ahead of tomorrow's team announcement with veteran second-row Ali Williams, criticised for his form in this year's Super 15, taking part in line-out practice with what looked the likely Test pack.
Injury concern Keven Mealamu was also togged-out practising his throwing, although Saturday's match may still come to soon for the experienced hooker.
One player certain to be named is cerebral centre Conrad Smith, who, rather than provide the usual token platitudes, spoke with genuine enthusiasm when asked about his opposite number Brian O'Driscoll.
"When you know the guy opposite you is as good as Brian O'Driscoll, it carries a little bit of weight into the game," said Smith.
"I love how long he's played, I love the fact he's supposedly not playing his best and there's been times when he's come over here after being written off, but he always comes back and shows his class.
"When you can keep churning it out as many years as he has, you've got some quality about you and you've got a bit of character -- and he's got bucket-loads."