Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

All Blacks look on the bright side

Richie McCaw

An optimistic New Zealand camp claimed their Tri-Nations loss to Australia would help their squad eliminate complacency and re-discover their edge ahead of the World Cup in September.

The defending Tri-Nations champions were ambushed by an impassioned Wallabies unit, who completely out-enthused the visitors in the first half. Both coach Graham Henry and captain Richie McCaw admitted the side had let themselves down with their limp start to the game, but said that the loss had hammered home important lessons ahead of the World Cup.

"We were just beaten to the punch in the first 20 minutes. We struggled to get our game going and they got the momentum and had more intensity than us," said McCaw. "I think going forward it's a good lesson that we have to make sure we're on the job from the word go. We realise what it's going to take... I guess it's a good reminder that winning big Test matches you have to start well."

He added: "I think the two games we've had against the Wallabies show there's very little between the teams and it's how you turn up. It's the mental state you turn up in and how you prepare yourself that's the difference.

"When you turn ball over at the tackle, passes don't go to hand, kicks get charged down, tackles get missed - those are really simple parts of the game, but that's what we were (getting it wrong) in the first half."

While the All Blacks showed they were seeking to move on quickly from the disappointing big-Test loss, potentially-serious injuries to forwards Kieran Read and Adam Thomson are likely to cause more concern in the camp.

Read (high ankle strain) left the field early in proceedings, while Thomson (hyper-extended elbow) stayed in the contest and paid the price, failing to hold onto a rampaging Radike Samo in a one-on-one contest and essentially conceding the second try of the match.

Henry said the injuries would be assessed upon return to New Zealand, as would be the contributions of several of his underperforming starters.

"Some guys would have been disappointed with how they played - they didn't play as well as they normally play or as well as they played to get into the side," he said. "That's the challenge; there are 30 guys in the team and they're all competing for positions and hopefully that'll continue right through the tournament.

"There'll be some people that will be disappointed that they didn't take advantage of the opportunity."

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