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Collins wary of more first-up jitters

NZPA     16 Jun 2006    

Captain Jerry Collins and the rest of the starting 15 flew out for Buenos Aires today, wary that a lack of preparation may count against them.

Collins said he wouldn't be surprised if his players were patchy in their first international of the year, just as the All Blacks were for the first of two Tests against Ireland at Hamilton, won 34-23.

"Nothing's going to be perfect. We've got some young fellas and some positional changes," Collins said.

"Obviously we're going to make mistakes. We just have to have a positive attitude and look forward to playing.

"We're all in the same boat, we've got moves to learn and teammates to get used to."

Collins said one area that shouldn't be a problem was the captaincy, which has been bestowed on him for the first time due to the absence of Richie McCaw.

It wasn't something that had played on his mind as they gathered for two training sessions in Auckland this week.

"There are enough blokes in the team who have been around a long time. I'll just lean on them, it's a pretty open policy. If things need to be said, they'll be said," he said.

"I just have to make sure I don't trip over in the tunnel coming down."

The starting 15 will be joined by the coaches and reserves, who fly out on Sunday, a day after the second Irish Test.

The All Blacks plan to watch this weekend's second Argentina-Wales Test in Buenos Aires to get a taste of the Pumas style and the atmosphere.

Prompted by the rusty showing last week, the All Blacks coaches were prompted to give the team for Argentina a game environment yesterday, complete with referee, to shake out any cobwebs.

It was something they did for players not involved in the Air New Zealand NPC playoffs ahead of last year's Grand Slam tour of Europe, according to assistant coach Wayne Smith.

"You need to introduce a bit more wrestling, a bit more game situation and full noise, not just simulation," Smith said.

"We got some physical contact under the belt ... it was full on for 20 minutes or so."

Collins had already experienced his own game time, having turned out for his Norths club last weekend. He was keen to keep his body ticking over, despite having played in all 15 games of the Hurricanes' Super 14 campaign.

He played the second half of the game at second five-eighth.

"I dodged a couple of flying elbows," he laughed.