An injection of Chiefs Super Rugby know-how has given the All Blacks impetus ahead of Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup Test against the Wallabies.
The five selected Chiefs players were given a week off to recover after claiming a maiden Super Rugby title over the Sharks.
They missed Friday’s scrappy twin trial matches against Auckland and Counties Manukau.
The arrival on Monday of brilliant Chiefs’ inside backs Sonny Bill Williams and Aaron Cruden – along with flankers Liam Messam and Sam Cane, and lock Brodie Retallick – had sparked a step up in intensity at the Auckland training for the Sydney Test.
Coach Steve Hansen immediately asked Messam to run a team defensive session, perhaps acknowledging the Chiefs’ stingy campaign that was built around a watertight defence.
Midfield back Tamati Ellison noticed how the collective pulse rate picked up during that session.
“We had a lot of respect for the boys who were running that, Liam and the (Chiefs) boys. Obviously they did the job so that helps,” Ellison said.
“It’s awesome to have them back. They’re looking real confident and ready to contribute.”
Veteran hooker Andrew Hore said the All Blacks were always thirsting for innovation. He said management and teammates were probing for the secret behind the Chiefs’ remarkable turnaround this season.
“They’ve got some ideas for us,” Hore said.