All Blacks eager to make amends
August 20, 2014
The All Blacks were disappointed following their draw to the Wallabies © Getty Images
The All Blacks have identified their decision-making as a key area for improvement in the second of their two back-to-back Rugby Championship Tests against Australia. Five-eighth Aaron Cruden says there's no lack of desire to make amends for their performance in the 12-12 draw against the Wallabies in Sydney last weekend.
"The desire is never questioned with an All Blacks team," he said. "It just comes down to a few of our skill sets and a big one was our decision-making."
Cruden said the All Blacks had undergone an honest review process and one conclusion was that they weren't on the front foot enough.
"We were just a little bit sluggish," he said. "We were probably caught on our heels a little bit instead of being on our toes in coming forward at them."
Cruden said credit had to be given to the Australian defence, but the All Blacks would need to make a few tweaks to allow them to apply more pressure. He said the return of 77-Test centre Conrad Smith would be a big help in that department.
"Just his experience in that midfield role will be key for the guys in and around him," he said. "We know he is a world-class footballer. There's a lot of unseen work that he does around the field, but as his teammates we really notice it."
Smith was named for the Sydney match, which doubled as the first of three Bledisloe Cup Tests, but missed it after he returned to New Zealand for the birth of his first child. Cruden described the mood within the New Zealand camp ahead of the return clash in Auckland on Saturday night as "keen and eager".
"We have talked a little bit that our backs are against the wall and we have to come out fighting the way that we know Kiwis do, and especially the All Blacks do," he said. "It is a massive challenge this week and this team really responds nicely when a big challenge is put in front of us."
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