Plenty of incentive for All Blacks ahead of Auckland

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Lynn McConnell     22 Aug 2018     Getty Images

While much attention in the wash-up from the game had centred on the lack of scoring success from set piece plays the All Blacks still managed to score six tries to one.

Assistant coach Ian Foster said the backline performance in the Test had been ok but what he was delighted with was the intuition they played with and even when things didn't go well it didn't stifle their decision-making in broken play. They had just let the ball go and did what they needed to do.

"That side was good and we fed off what I thought was a fantastic defence effort. Some of the players who were a little bit off in attack actually had massive defensive games and the midfield is a classic case of that. So there was a lot of energy went into that and maybe we lost a little bit of focus in other areas," he said.

With second five-eighths Ryan Crotty out after his head knock there had been no move to bring in cover for him, the selectors sticking with Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown and Ngani Laumape while Jordie Barrett was also an option within the squad.

Rieko Ioane was also out with a hamstring strain and Foster said it had proved useful having Nehe Milner-Skudder play for Manawatu last weekend because he hadn't had a lot of time on the wing, being preferred at fullback due to injury concerns with others at the Hurricanes, and he had shown sharp instincts and looked good on the outside channels.

In relation to Crotty's head knock and much of the subsequent comment from the rugby public, Foster said there was no pressure on Crotty whatsoever to get back into play.

There were protocols to go through.

"The beauty of how we handle it is we give him the space to go away and recover properly and that's what we'll do here. The signs are really positive from him in the last few days but at the end of the day it's his health that is our greatest concern," he said.

Having the space to make a clear decision when to come back was in Crotty's hands.

All players were different. The incident with fullback Ben Smith last year demonstrated that when what was thought to be concussion was something else.

"It's a little bit of an unknown area but what we do know is that our best practice is to give them time and space and take all the pressure, let them recover and we know the importance of letting them recover back to zero and having a full recovery. That's what the concussion protocols are about," he said.

Regarding the lack of impact from set piece plays, Foster felt the All Blacks looked hesitant and a little jumpy in that area. Some of their timing had not been quite right.

He felt both teams might have felt the same way, possibly due to the excitement of playing and also the intensity and line speed of both teams which created pressure.

"We've got to be better than that, we've got to control what we can control and so just working on our time and execution has been a big focus," he said.

Foster said the All Blacks respected the Wallabies' ability to rebound having been on the receiving end last year under similar circumstances. The fact that Australia hadn't won at Eden Park since 1986 gave the All Blacks no advantage if they were not able to play well.

"We know if we play well and do what we do there is a great feeling in the stadium and the boys love that but we've got to earn that feeling," he said.

"It's a business as normal week but at the end of it there's a big carrot which is the Bledisloe Cup and it means so much to us that we want to put everything we can into this week."