Test review provided optimism for All Blacks

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Lynn McConnell     21 Nov 2018     Getty Images

Heading into their last Test of the year against Italy in Rome on Sunday (NZT) first five-eighths Beauden Barrett said the facts shown in the review was there were so many opportunities but they felt Ireland had done well to show there weren't quite so many, or to make the All Blacks feel like that especially with the way they defended.

"It's a fantastic place to play there [Lansdowne Road] but the exciting thing for us is there were so many opportunities that we missed out there so that's our challenge to be better to take them.

"It comes down to a few basic principles that we potentially did slip off," he said.

The two weeks preparing to play England and Ireland had been intense and there was a World Cup knockout feeling about it but preparing for Italy was different as evidenced by the lack of comparative attention being paid to the team in Rome.

"We're not approaching it that way. We see a quality side, we saw how they took it to Australia and it's a challenge for us to back up after a performance we weren't too proud of on Saturday," he said.

The team had been facing different challenges from the opponents they faced and the respective structures they took into each game and what they had been playing with was different structures with the ultimate goal of being able to pick and choose depending on who they were playing against.

The frustrating aspect was not being able to get the ball to where it needs to be in order to execute key moments and to hurt defences.

But at the same time he felt the side was getting close to achieving what they were looking for.

"It's been a good year for us in terms of trying out new things and it's important to do that to keep growing," he said.

Among that growth was Barrett's first two dropped goals in Test rugby and he said knowing he could do it was something to be banked away for future use, even if having to do it outside of penalty advantage. They had been working on the skill and it was something that could be useful, especially in a World Cup situation.

On his goal-kicking overall, he said the lesson was to realise that he might have an off-day once or twice a season and that the sooner he got over that the better.

Scott Barrett, who played much of the Ireland Test on the blindside flank after Liam Squire was injured, said any opportunity to be in the on-field action was appreciated and while flanker wasn't his preferred position it was still good to be involved. Preparation was more intense leading into the game in order to cope with the slightly different role but he was happy covering the blindside role.

Beauden Barrett said versatility was good and it had been his own way of getting more exposure in Tests. He thought possibly 25 of his first 30 Tests had been with coming off the bench because of his ability to play first five-eighths and fullback.

"We all want to be starting but sometimes just being in that 23, or any opportunity to play is the No.1 spot," he said.

Scott Barrett said the review of the Ireland game had shown a few areas where the All Blacks scrum hadn't performed exactly as they wanted and against a strong scrummaging team like Italy they would be looking to improve on that and to disrupt their ball.