Little guy, big impact: Aaron Smith has helped shift the All Blacks' attack into hyper speed.
There will be further frustration in the All Blacks' camp after they bombed up to eight try-scoring opportunities during their 22-0 win over the Wallabies on Saturday night.
But behind the angst is excitement at the possibilities their nippy halfback is opening up with his ability to clear the ball at pace.
Australian halfback Will Genia said it was among the toughest test he had played and lock Nathan Sharpe labelled it the best All Black performance he had faced since 2003.
And it wasn't just the Wallabies feeling the pinch in a test that was as fast as it was physical.
"I didn't have anything left in that last few minutes," All Blacks No 8 Kieran Read said after the match.
"In terms of attack I was on empty. The type of game it was, it was definitely quick, that's probably why it took so much out of the guys."
But if the All Blacks seemed to struggle at times to finish, Read made it clear slowing down wasn't the way to fix the finishing.
"If the attack can't react then definitely the defence can't. That's our goal to create quick ball off rucks," he said. "Another day, we've got backs who would normally finish and get across the line. We'll work on that, but we want to keep churning out quick ball.”
Smith talks as fast as he plays and believes it was white line fever rather than speed wobbles that saw chances go begging.
“Once we had that one-to-two second ball which is what we really focus on, we looked very dangerous, but when we got to five or six metres out everyone was lining up from the ruck wanting to get the try, instead of hitting the ruck to set up for the try," he said.
“We weren't very patient. We need to get that patience and once we're in that golden acre great teams are able to build tries not just wanting to score off everything.” Smith credited his quick delivery to the All Blacks' ball carriers for dominating the collision and providing the impetus for an effective cleanout from their support players.
“We based it [the game plan] on the ball carrier. We got dominated in the contact last week, but we were winning the contact [in Auckland] and that helped us get a better cleanout," he said.
A shattered Genia enjoyed similarly clean ball at the Reds this year, but made it clear the Wallabies had been chasing their tails at Eden Park.
"It was one of the toughest games I've ever played. In all facets. We got taught a lesson ... we just couldn't stick with them."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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