The All Blacks are promising no let-up as they look to crush the Wallabies’ Bledisloe Cup hopes for yet another year in Saturday’s return bout in Wellington.
Meticulous to end, the world champions are refusing to assume anything even after romping to their biggest-ever win in Australia, a 42-8 belting of the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday night.
“I know the scoreboard was big but it was a tough game and a couple of things you have to look at,” said coach Steve Hansen.
“A lot of the Australian boys haven’t played for a long time and that makes it difficult and some nights everything goes your way and it doesn’t for the opposition.
“But we’ve been here before ourselves. We’ve taken a bit of pasting and then the next game turned it round.
“So we will be expecting them to turn it around next week … you don’t win the (Bledisloe) Cup until you’ve got both hands on it.”
Just last year the All Blacks lost 27-19 to the Wallabies in Sydney before reversing it with an emphatic 41-13 thumping at Auckland’s Eden Park a week later.
Hansen has lost Waisake Naholo for New Zealand’s second match of the Rugby Championship after the winger tore a hamstring scoring one of the All Blacks’ six tries at ANZ Stadium.
But his side proved emphatically it could overcome injury setbacks with an attacking masterclass on Saturday.
Beauden Barrett carried his electric Super Rugby form onto the international stage with a try and the setting up of two others in a 17-point personal haul.
But New Zealand’s man of the match deflected the praise to brave hooker Dane Coles, who answered an SOS call from Hansen on Friday.
Asked to warm the bench despite being initially being ruled out with a rib cartilage injury, Coles was thrust into the fray in the third minute when the All Blacks’ hooker woes reached crisis levels.
Promoted to start after Nathan Harris ruptured his ACL on Thursday, five-Test rookie Codie Taylor lasted only two minutes before being knocked out.
New Zealand’s 2015 World Cup starting hooker, Coles sucked it up and completed the remaining 78 minutes, earning accolades from the entire All Blacks camp, including his Super Rugby title-winning teammate Barrett.
“Unbelievable. (From) squealing pre-game, four injections into his ribs. So he’s a tough rooster,” Barrett said.
“It’s what we needed tonight. Obviously with Codie going down so I can’t say enough about `Colesy’.
“He’s a tough man and a great player.”