The mighty All Blacks are expecting anything and everything from he Wallabies on Saturday, but are adamant they won’t change their own style to counter the dual breakdown threats of openside flyers Michael Hooper and David Pocock.
Just over a month out from the World Cup, the defending champions will adopt the mentality of having to play their best game of the year as they seek to keep their mitts on the Bledisloe Cup for a 13th straight season.
“We certainly can get a lot better and we’re going to have to for a month’s time, so we’ve just got to keep improving,” All Blacks’ No.8 Kieran Read said.
“This battle here is huge, not only the (Rugby) Championship but the Bledisloe is on the line in this game, so we’ve got to have the mindset of going out there and playing our best game of the year this week.”
They expect an intensely physical approach from the Wallabies having watched them evolve under the coaching of Michael Cheika this year.
“Physicality is definitely No.1 on their list and they’ve improved immensely in that area, but for us we’ll expect anything from them,” New Zealand flanker Jerome Kaino said.
“They’ve picked a team that can adapt, and play both games.
“They can front up up front and they have a very experienced backline that could run us around, so for us we’ve got to focus and expect anything from them.”
Read said Cheika’s decision to start both Pocock and Hooper probably placed even more emphasis on the breakdown battle.
“They are great fetchers of the ball so they will probably target that area,” Read said.
“Even though Pocock is playing (at number) eight he’ll probably still play his natural game I guess, when he’s sniffing around the breakdown.
“It doesn’t change how we’re going to play the game and how we’re going to approach the breakdown.”
Read doubted the presence of both Pocock and Hooper from the start of the game would add extra speed to the clash.
“I don’t think it’s going to be any faster, I think it will be a quick game because of the nature both teams want to play so if we get a dry track it’s going to be quite a high tempo game,” Read said.
“You probably look at the way they are going to play they are obviously going to play with a bit more width and quicken up, but they have actually been playing a pretty structured game this year.