Bullocking centre Ma’a Nonu looms as a key change for the All Blacks when they attempt to retain the Bledisloe Cup against the improving Wallabies on Saturday.
Nonu sat out last Saturday’s opening loss to the Wallabies in Sydney with a shoulder injury incurred in the previous Test win against South Africa.
But the 96-Test veteran appears set to replace Sonny Bill Williams at inside centre after training fully on Tuesday.
“It’s coming on well, so hopefully I’ll get into some contact this week and be available,” said Nonu.
“It was frustrating, just a little niggle where it was nothing too serious.”
Williams didn’t train because of a knee problem which may have contributed to his lacklustre effort in Sydney marked by two poor options to kick – badly both times.
Nonu had no doubt where the problems lay for the All Blacks in the 27-19 defeat which has put their 13-year hold on the Bledisloe Cup in jeopardy.
“I think we were out-passioned,” Nonu said.
“I don’t think we can hide away from what we saw at the weekend, if you look at how the Australians flew into those rucks and how they were physical and just the way they played.
“Everyone knows that and everyone has seen that.”
Nonu said the Sydney loss had added intensity to training this week.
“It hasn’t been a fun two days in terms of reviews, but we’re pretty confident in ourselves,” he said.
Nonu said the All Blacks had been looking at ways of countering the Wallabies’ rush defence and were also addressing their execution of the fundamentals.
“Our biggest challenge is our basic skills, really,” he said.
“I thought we made too many errors in terms of not having our backs available when we did have the ball.”
If the 33-year-old Nonu gets on at Eden Park, it is set to be his farewell appearance at the ground, as he heads for French club Toulon after the World Cup.
“I haven’t really thought about that,” he said. “I just want to be fit and ready to go this week.”