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Nonu, Kaino 'unlikely' to play second Test

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Lynn McConnell     19 Aug 2014     Getty Images

Both have had scans but it was likely to be Wednesday before they had been fully assessed. Assistant coach Ian Foster said on Tuesday it was 'highly unlikely' they would play.

However, there was cover available for both players. Foster said they had the option of Steven Luatua, who had been on the bench in Sydney, or Liam Messam, who was always expected to come back into reckoning for the second Test.

Foster also didn't rule out Sam Cane featuring somewhere in the mix.

"We've actually got some good options there to be frank and all three rotated through there today [at training]," he said.

Replacing Nonu was not quite so clear cut although Foster appeared to rule out playing Malakai Fekitoa as a starter. While he covered second five-eighths from the bench, Fekitoa was seen as more of a longer term prospect in the role.

But it was more likely Ryan Crotty, who was flown in as an eleventh-hour replacement for Conrad Smith last weekend in Sydney, would fill the role, in partnership with Smith who rejoined the side after his paternity leave.

"Whoever goes in there we've got to make sure they look at all the skill sets that we need from a 12 [second five-eighths]. We don't just want someone to hit the ball up hard, they've got to be a thinking player, they've got to be able to pass and they've got to be able to kick and assess situations.

"Some of our decision-making wasn't good last week and it is going to be a real focus for us this week," he said.

It wouldn't be a case of changing the way the All Blacks played in order to accommodate replacing Nonu, Foster said.

Players were preparing well and they knew what the job description was and they had the selectors' confidence.

The side had missed Conrad Smith but Foster said it was pretty poor to blame his absence on making bad decisions. He said under pressure in the second half the side had been slow in their decision-making, in the conditions, and that had been a valuable learning experience.

"It was a tough Bledisloe in pretty tough conditions and we were under a lot of pressure and we hope we have learnt a lot from that. You've got to be really sharp, you've got to look clearly, you've got to set a little bit earlier in order to make those decisions easier," Foster said.

Looking at what the All Blacks needed to improve for the return clash, Foster said they had to attack better.

"Our mindset to attack has got to be better. I thought we got a little bit tight on our structure, we got quite narrow in the way that we played and after controlling the game for 30 minutes and doing it reasonably well we seemed to get a wee bit flustered and we lost our structure.

"That meant our decision-making became harder and harder to do. It is a matter of trusting what we have been doing and making sure we don't give ourselves an out in our skill set because the ball's wet," he said.

A few things had got under the side's skin in the game and they let that affect them to the point where the shape in those parts of their game got lost.