All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is confident he can find the recipe to subdue the Wallabies’ breakdown bandits in Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup return clash in Auckland.
Australia’s back row trio of Scott Fardy and renowned fetchers David Pocock and Michael Hooper scored a decisive points win over their All Blacks counterparts in Australia’s 27-19 win in Sydney on Saturday.
Hansen took “three or four looks” at footage of the Rugby Championship decider before fronting the media on Sunday morning.
“It doesn’t get any prettier,” Hansen said.
“But there’s a lot of things we can improve on. and the big thing we can’t do is panic.
“The breakdown is certainly an area (to improve on). We’ve got to be honest with ourselves, in the last two games we’ve been tidied up there.
“When you’ve got two guys like Pocock and Hooper and a couple of weeks before than, two South African boys really strong over the ball, it’s an area of the game that we have to get better at.
“It’s the perfect time to be getting challenged going into the World Cup.
“We know it’s not something we’ve put a lot of work into so far this year because we’ve had other priorities, but it’s now become a pretty big focus.”
He said his players looked hesitant at the breakdown and back rower Jerome Kaino admitted as much.
“We got caught on the back foot last night just watching a little bit too long, seeing things happening,” Kaino said.
Asked if he was confident he had the solution to the All Blacks breakdown woes, Hansen said: “I think we have, We believe we have. The proof is in the pudding.
“But we’ve got quite a bit of work to do before we eat the pudding, don’t we?
“”We’ve got to bake it first so we need to get the ingredients and then we need to go out and cook it right.”
Questioned whether that meant he would turn up the heat on his team this week, Hansen said “I don’t think I’ll have to turn it up, it’s already turned up. I think she’s on full bore.”
He wasn’t concerned the Wallabies’ first win in 11 games over New Zealand would give them any advantages heading into the Eden Park clash.
“If you look at the overall last 10 years I think they’ve had their scars as well,” Hansen said.
He said the only player who may not be fit to train on Tuesday was centre Sonny Bill Williams, who took a knock to the buttock and had a difficult night in the face of rushing Wallabies defence.