All Blacks captain Kieran Read says his men are desperate to not let their foot off the Wallabies’ throat again and are wary of more niggling tactics after what happened in the corresponding fixture last year.
They may have scored 54 points in the opening 48 minutes of play in Sydney but the All Blacks are focusing purely on the negatives after they conceded four second-half tries.
A one-nil series lead into a match in their own backyard has them as hungry as ever to create history and make it 15 Bledisloe Cup wins from as many attempts.
“I’m really desperate for it,” Read said. “This is our most important trophy we play for outside the World Cup.
“We slightly took our foot off the throat and if we’re not there mentally, they’re a team that can do that to you. They’re dangerous, they’re hungry, they’ve certainly got a point to prove, so you can’t take any team lightly.
“We weren’t happy, obviously, with the last 30 minutes last week, so that was a great kick in the guts for us to start this week on the right note.
“There’s a number of guys in here who have tasted what it’s like to win. There’s a few guys who haven’t, so they’re pretty hungry.”
The Wallabies were comprehensively beaten 42-8 in Sydney this time last year and travelled to Wellington the following week with a plan to get in the faces of All Blacks players to put them off their game.
While the final scoreline of 29-9 suggested the plan was somewhat flawed, it was this left-field tactic that has Read a little more wary this time around in Dunedin.
“It’s been through our minds, we’ve got to expect it,” Read said. “We’ll adapt to whatever comes our way. If we can go out there and try and play our game and play it fair, play it clean and play it really hard, a lot of that extra stuff doesn’t come into the game. We’ve got to make sure we can do that. We’ll adapt to whatever they bring.”
The passing this week of All Blacks legend Sir Colin Meads, a second-rower who played 55 Tests between 1957 and 1971, has been at the forefront of players’ minds.
Players and supporters will pause for a moment’s silence on Saturday night to remember one of the most respected men in New Zealand rugby.
“We certainly touched on him through the week, talked about him in our club rooms this week and we’re obviously paying a great tribute to him on our jersey tomorrow night,” Read said. “Guys will certainly treasure that. It’s not necessarily going to win us the Test match, we’ve got to go out there and do it ourselves.”