Steve Hansen may take time off for ill father
The All Blacks last night were unsure what role head coach Steve Hansen would play in the buildup to this Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test.
Hansen's elderly father, Des, a former prominent coach with the Marist club in Christchurch, is seriously ill.
The All Blacks are scheduled to fly to Brisbane on Thursday. The team assembled in Christchurch yesterday and will use the Linwood Club as their training base.
A team spokesman last night said no update on the situation was available but Fairfax understands the Hansen clan have gathered around their father's bedside and assistant coach Ian Foster is poised to play a larger part in team preparation if Hansen is unable to attend training.
Meanwhile, All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith said the desire in the All Blacks camp to make sure they rounded out the Rugby Championship in style against Australia this week was understandably strong.
Unbeaten this year the All Blacks were keen to continue that record, he said, and they were wary of an Aussie backlash.
"Australia are the sort of team you can never really take lightly, and the way things are for them at the moment probably makes them even more dangerous.
“But I think the feel in the camp is we really want to close the Rugby Championship out in style.
“We have done all the hard work to remain unbeaten so it would be a shame to lose that at the final hurdle.
“There is a real desire there to help Kev [Keven Mealamu] celebrate his 100th match in style though so that is going to be a real driving point for us this week."
On promotional duty at the New Zealand's Biggest Boot competition at Christchurch Airport, Smith said such occasions were the times that made him reflect just how far he has come.
“If you had said to me a year ago that things would have panned out the way they have I would have never believed you," Smith said.
“Days like this where you are out doing things with the public, it's awesome.
"Sometimes I still feel like I am just another guy in the crowd, but I'm slowly getting used to it all."