All Blacks veteran Jerome Kaino warns Wallabies will be a 'different beast'
Jerome Kaino knows all about the Australian appetite to rain on an All Black parade.
The 33-year-old All Blacks hard man, currently in the form of his life for a New Zealand team re-writing the book on excellence, has been part of two special win streaks halted at the hands of those wretched Wallabies. He's warning anyone who will listen in Auckland this week that they have to be on guard for another Aussie ambush.
The All Blacks host the Wallabies at Eden Park on Saturday night in a "dead" Bledisloe with all sorts of life in it. A victory would see the New Zealanders break the record win streak for a major rugby nation with their 18th on the bounce, as well as extend special marks for consecutive test successes at home, and at Eden Park.
A group that is resetting the boundaries on rugby achievement is hugely motivated to tuck away a pretty special test record that is likely to take some beating.
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But Kaino is more wary than most. He was in the All Blacks in 2010 in Hong Kong when the Wallabies snapped their run of 15 test victories in a row with a 26-24 victory, and again there in Sydney in 2014 when the Aussies drew 12-12 in Sydney to halt the New Zealanders' run at a record-equalling 17.
He missed the 18-18 draw in Brisbane in 2012 when another All Blacks run of 16 was ended by the Wallabies, but he would have been there in spirit.
"They do rise to the challenges, and this is one of them," Kaino said after assembling for the first training hitout of the week on Tuesday. "We've spoken about that they will be better and they will rise to the occasion.
"We know they're not going to lie down. There's nothing more they'd like than to spoil our party. It's our challenge to get excited about that. They're going to come over here and try to do that and our job is not to let them."
Kaino also warned that this is a different Wallabies outfit than that which folded so limply to defeats in Sydney (42-8) and again in Wellington (29-9).
"Australia will be a different beast this time round, a lot better than when we played them last in Wellington. They've got more competitive at the breakdown, and if they have David Pocock back that will just add more steel to what they already had.
"A lot of the younger guys have added a lot to their squad. They're a lot more abrasive in midfield with [Samu] Kerevi there. Quade at 10 adds a little bit of indecision on defence. They've got a lot stronger.
"But we're a lot better as well. What we've learned is how we prepare during the week. Though a lot will be said in the media about how we'll easily beat them, it's important we don't believe that. We're both tier-one nations, and there are only little things in test matches that win them and lose them."
Kaino also had a nice explanation for his own vintage form which has been as good as any in his career.
"I just look at our skipper and how he leads the way, and it helps me because we're alongside each other all week. And you put it down to guys like Liam Squire and Elliot Dixon working alongside you. You can't help but improve when you've got young guys like that pushing you along."
He was also asked where this All Black team might rank as they rack up their special performances, and achievements, on a weekly basis.
"It's tough, with different eras ... we might not have the experience of other teams, but the feel and confidence this team has going out there and the young players just like backing themselves. The coaches feel that and they let the young guys have a free rein, and you've seen the results.
"The guys have been playing well, and these young guys don't get carried away with themselves. They're quite grounded, and that helps us older guys make sure we front up every week and put out a performance we can be proud of."