All Blacks plan for Pocock-Hooper threat

The All Blacks are preparing to be confronted by the twin openside threats of David Pocock and Michael Hooper during Saturday night’s Rugby Championship decider against the Wallabies in Sydney.

New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster says the scenario has been part of the team’s preparations for what doubles as the first of this year’s two Bledisloe Cup Tests.

“We’re planning for it, but clearly they have some other options,” he said.

“Early in the week, we take our best guess, but we just really gear our game about what we want to get out of it.

“Once we find out who’s in their team, we might make the slight adjustment, but either way we’re expecting Pocock and Hooper to be on the park together at some point.”

Foster earmarked ruthlessness at the breakdown as a key focus after being below-par in that department in their come-from-behind win over South Africa.

“We have to respect the fact that, when they’re on the park together, they (Pocock and Hooper) are there for a reason – they’re there to steal our ball,” he said.

“If we’re not good at what we do, if we’re not accurate in the way we attack and clean out, we’re in trouble, and we got a bit of a lesson in that (against the Springboks).”

The All Blacks, who are scheduled to arrive in Sydney on Wednesday night, are due to name their match-day 23 on Thursday morning.

Having juggled their selections in their three Tests so far this year – against Samoa, Argentina and South Africa – they look set to field their No.1 line-up against the Wallabies.

“It’s come at a great time, the fact that it’s worked out that it’s not only a Bledisloe Cup game, but it’s a decider for the Rugby Championship,” Foster said.

“It’s added a bit of spice to this game, hasn’t it, if we needed it.

“And certainly, after the last three Tests of new combinations and introducing a whole lot of new people, I think it’s nice to be able to put our stake in the ground, this one, and just see exactly where we’re at.”

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