All Blacks loose forward Victor Vito says he just wants to nail his role in the battle up-front against the Wallabies rather than worry about pressing his Rugby World Cup claims.
Vito is a surprise selection in the starting 15 for the Bledisloe Cup decider in Auckland on Saturday night, included as blindside flanker for Jerome Kaino, who instead provides locking cover in the reserves.
The 28-year-old Hurricane has made 27 Test appearances, 16 of which have been off the bench. His last start came as No.8 against Scotland last November.
Vito says there’s pressure to perform at Eden Park, but not because it’s the last Test before the 31-strong World Cup squad is named.
“It’s pressure rugby always with the All Blacks, whether it’s a Bledisloe decider or it’s a Test against Argentina,” he said.
“They are all pretty important, so we just have to go out and do our jobs.”
Vito was a late call-up for the 2011 World Cup squad, edging out Liam Messam.
With both players in this year’s preliminary 41-strong Test squad, Vito can feel a slight sense of deja vu.
“A little bit, but I think I’m a bit older now and probably see it a little bit differently,” he said.
“That’s probably where the positive is for me anyway – not being so caught in everyone seeing this as your one shot. It’s more about this team, my role and making sure I fulfil it.”
Vito will join skipper Richie McCaw, playing a world record 142nd Test, and No. 8 Kieran Read in a loose trio looking to lift the New Zealand’s performance at the breakdown.
The All Blacks have struggled in that phase, not just in their defeat to the Wallabies in Sydney last weekend, but also their win over the Springboks in Johannesburg.
“We just want to make sure we win that battle up front,” Vito said.
“That means we have to front up physically and obviously the No.6 jersey has got a lot of kudos with that role.”