Veteran hooker Keven Mealamu says there might be a bit more buzz this week, but the All Blacks are out to ensure it doesn’t hinder their preparations for the Rugby World Cup final against Australia.
“We’re just making sure we do each day really well,” Mealamu said.
“We have to make sure we put in the steps that we have.
“It’s no different from any other Test week, but there’s just a bit more excitement around the place that we know that the opportunity is at hand for us.”
The trans-Tasman rivals face off at Twickenham on Sunday morning (NZT) and there has been plenty of talk about the breakdown battle, and how the All Blacks can neutralise David Pocock’s ball-pilfering ability.
Pocock was on deck when Australia secured a 27-19 Rugby Championship win against New Zealand in Sydney in August.
But he missed the return clash in Auckland, where the All Blacks bounced back with a thumping 41-13 victory to retain the Bledisloe Cup.
However, Mealamu said the All Blacks couldn’t afford to put too much focus on the Wallabies No.8.
“We understand he’s a big part of them, but there’s plenty of strings to their bow that are just as important that we need to make sure we account for,” he said.
The final is set to be Mealamu’s 132nd and last Test for New Zealand in an international career that began in 2002.
The 36-year-old is at his fourth World Cup and was part of the All Blacks’ nail-biting 8-7 win over France in the final four years ago.
New Zealand had to survive a similar close call last weekend before getting past South Africa in their semi-final.
Coach Steve Hansen said after the 20-18 win over the Springboks that he had had faith in the All Blacks’ composure to pull through, citing the experience in the side.
South African lock Victor Matfield noted the calmness among the All Blacks when he entered the fray with 20 minutes to go.
Matfield said he had been fortunate to play in teams that knew they were going to win, no matter how far they were behind.
“I must say when I went on, I never saw panic in their eyes,” he said.
“They just looked like a calm, solid unit that know what they are doing, and have confidence in each other.”