All Blacks haven't lost taste for victory

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies know how it feels to lose a Bledisloe Cup but the All Blacks have done work to make sure they keep the hunger for victory alive.

All Blacks second rower Sam Whitelock said he had played with and spoken to former All Blacks who had conceded the trans-Tasman trophy in the past.

“I've played with a number of guys before that have lost, had a few conversations around that and it's always very interesting, hearing their thoughts and feelings around that,” he said.

Sam Whitelock has kept the Bledisloe run in perspective. Photo: Getty ImagesWhitelock said the key message from his former teammates was the importance of preparation, something the All Blacks have shaken up this week, arriving in Sydney almost a week out from the Bledisloe, a trip they don’t normally make until mid-week

“Some of them were just around what their preparation throughout the week was like,” he said.

“That's critical anytime you play but obviously it's a big game this week so nailing your prep was one of the main things that came out (of those conversations),” he said.

After 13 straight series wins, the All Blacks come into this series with some of their most drastic personnel change of recent years, with veterans Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Ma’a Nonu among those missing from last year’s World Cup

The All Blacks have already played one series in their new era, a 3-0 Test series win over Wales and Whitelock said it had brought a different energy to the All Blacks team.

“Obviously both sides have played three games and each side have bled in some younger guys, different guys,” he said.

“As a squad it's always great when someone new comes in, you see that look on their face, they're so excited and want to do the best they can so it's awesome when someone new comes in to the team.”

Ben Smith says the All Blacks haven't lost the hunger. Photo: Getty ImagesSmith said the transition was simply a chance for a new crop of players to assert themselves.

“With that, there's obviously the likes of Richie and Dan they've had their time in the black jersey but now it's time for someone else to come in and assert themselves on the team,” he said.

“I think they're a big part of All Blacks rugby but at the same time it gives someone else an opportunity to get out and play and do something that obviously those guys loved to do.”

The two jumpers left vacant by McCaw and Carter are those under the most speculation, with Ardie Savea and Beauden Barrett putting the heat on incumbents Sam Cane and Aaron Cruden.