All Blacks prepare for big last effort

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Lynn McConnell     21 Nov 2017     Getty Images

Speaking in Cardiff ahead of Sunday's (NZT) Test with Wales, Cane said the All Blacks of 2017 had learnt more because of the pressure they had been under without their core of experience throughout.


"Adversity does tend to teach you a few things. I think of some games where we have been in some pretty tough places and guys have had to step up into some roles that they haven't been used to in this team.

"I think of some of the guys who will be back and fit and available next year then you've got 40-50 guys who are really quality players who have experienced Test match footy. Hopefully it puts New Zealand rugby in good stead," he said.

Cane said he was looking forward to finishing the season with a final win and feeling proud of how the side performed against Wales.

Getting the preparation right, as had become the team mantra, was crucial while also realising it would be the last time the group would be together meant they needed to enjoy the experience as well.

"If we can get that right hopefully the performance will come and we'll be happy," he said.

Fellow flanker Matt Todd said that after the Warren Gatland-coached British & Irish Lions had used defensive line speed so well the All Blacks would be expecting more of the same from Wales, but were also ready for a more attacking bent from their old rivals.
Wales employed two playmakers in the five-eighths in their loss to Australia two weeks ago and that suggested an attacking mindset but whether that would be continued wouldn't be known until their team was announced on Thursday.

"We're expecting a fast game. They're going to want to challenge us defensively so we have to prepare well and be ready for that challenge."

Todd didn't think there were issues of lower energy levels at the end of a long season. They had enjoyed their flight from Edinburgh to Cardiff and there had been plenty of energy in the gym on Monday morning so he felt the signs were that there was still something left in the players' tanks.

"You want to finish well because if you don't it's a long couple of months dwelling on a poor performance," he said.

Cane said the All Blacks were determined to be better prepared than had been the case against Scotland.

Detecting when they were not on point, in terms of attitude, was possible before going onto the field but by that stage it was often too late to be able to flick a switch to get into the right frame of mind.

Preparation was something that needed to build during the week.

"We probably turned up with an attitude that was maybe just a fraction off against Scotland, and it doesn't take much. We'll be going out this week and making sure we're exactly where we need to be," he said.

"The prep and build-up to go out there, win little battles, urgency to get up, all these small things that make a big difference at the end of the day, you've got to build that through the week. It's pretty tough to just turn up and flick a switch," he said.

It was always tough in Cardiff and the atmosphere was something different for newer players so there would be a need to get around them and have them prepared, he said.