Hooker Andrew Hore says the All Blacks' attitude let them down in the narrow second-test victory over Ireland on Saturday night.
Hore said in Hamilton today the Irish intensity and physicality was no greater than it had been in the first test won 42-10 by the All Blacks in Auckland.
But the hard-fought 22-19 second-test win in Christchurch, clinched by a late Dan Carter dropped goal, had seen a slip in the New Zealand team's own standards in those areas.
The deterioration in the All Blacks' scrummaging at AMI Stadium as the match went on had been an example of that.
''I think it just shows you that attitude is the thing out there that we were lacking,'' Hore said.
''We were pretty switched on [in the scrums] at the start and then switched off a little bit and you get bitten if you do that.
''You've just got to make sure that every time you do things you've got to be 100 per cent right in the head because in international footy everyone's going to come after you.
''We learned that lesson almost the hard way but we got away with it,'' he said.
Hore felt the All Blacks had not had as many scoring chances in the second test as the first in what was a generally tight game and that meant the Irish stayed in it right to the end.
''You grow confidence from that. It's like playing for the Highlanders down home. If you're in the game in the last 20 minutes it's easy to dig deep so we let them do that and hopefully [this week we can fix things up].''
While the All Blacks have already won the series against Ireland 2-0 with one test to play, Hore said this Saturday night's third test at Waikato Stadium was ''huge'' and would feel more like a series decider.
''We've got to make sure we get our attitude sorted out and get out there and put in a performance we can be proud of when we go back to our franchises.
''The Irish boys set a standard and have laid down a pretty good challenge so we've got to get out there knowing you've got to play at your best if you want to beat these guys and hopefully we can do that and get things back on track.
''It's one of those good things about sport that you're only a week between games and you can right the wrongs.''
He said Ireland would take a lot out of their performance in Christchurch and would bring renewed confidence up to Hamilton after spending most of this week training in Queenstown.
Hore faces further competition for his hooking berth this week with the return of Keven Mealamu to the list of players available to play from within the squad.
''He's one of the best in the business, it's always good to have competition and it's good to have my old mate back as well,'' he said.
- Fairfax Media
What NZ rugby job would you give Robbie Deans?Related story: (See story)