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Junior All Blacks to maintain intensity

NZPA     23 Jun 2006    

The New Zealanders have already won the title ahead of their final fixture in Dunedin, while Japan have conceded a half-century of points in losing to Tonga and Samoa in their two matches to date.

But New Zealand skipper Corey Flynn ruled out any complacency in the Juniors' ranks and said his players would approach the contest with the same intensity as any other.

"It's well and good to say `we've won the competition', but we could easily trip up here and the campaign would be classed as a disappointment," the three-Test hooker said.

"Nothing has changed and the boys are pretty fired up."

Co-coaches Colin Cooper and Ian Foster have made eight personnel changes to the 15 that started the 38-10 defeat of Tonga in New Plymouth last weekend.

The Juniors were made to work for the win over the Tongans, who spoilt possession, created turnovers and were solid in the scrums and lineouts.

Flynn said his side were looking to be more physical against Japan.

"We let the Tongans dominate us a little bit and obviously we want to address that and approach this game in a more physical way," he said.

"We also want to make sure our set pieces are good so we can let the backs have a bit of fun."

Meanwhile, Flynn has given the inaugural tournament the thumbs-up and supported its continuation.

He said it gave players not involved in the All Blacks the chance for further competition after the end of the Super 14.

It was also an opportunity to help the game in the Pacific.

"It gives the young guys just off the All Blacks something to aim for," he said.

"It's also serving the purpose of nurturing rugby in the Pacific islands.

"There are a lot of stars in the All Blacks who would be pretty lethal playing for them, so we need to repay that."

Flynn was handed the captaincy of the Juniors after former All Black skipper Reuben Thorne pulled out of the squad.

The Crusaders hooker said the job hadn't been too strenuous and he had been helped by the fact that the team were winning.

"They're a pretty easy bunch to captain," he said.

"I've got a good group of senior players around me and I have to do very little talking."

In the other match of the round, Fiji host Samoa in Suva.

The Juniors have the bye when the tournament winds up the following weekend.