Kieran Read pushed aside personal goals and collective concerns and declared the All Blacks ready to secure a clean sweep of the French in New Plymouth tomorrow night.
On his uncle's ground, Read is no doubt keen to maintain his three-match unbeaten record as captain before Richie McCaw returns for the Rugby Championship.
But, as always, he deflected such speculation and insisted the focus was on sending the French home winless.
"The only outcome we are after is 3-0," Read said today as the All Blacks went through their final preparations at Yarrow Stadium.
"That's they way we want to do it. To do it with a [quality] performance would be really satisfying as well.
"We'll do everything we can. We've prepared really well. You can't underestimate this French side. We expect a tough test again and we'll be looking to perform well. The win is a priority.
"It's about the team doing well. Any test you go into you want to come out on top. It's not going to matter if I'm captain or not. There are certain differences, but it's about what you can do to get the team over the line. I've been really happy with how we've been going as a unit. I've been doing my small part in doing that."
Heavy downpours and cold conditions haven't helped the All Blacks' preparations this week. Inaccuracies have been frequent at trainings but the three rookies in the side - Steven Luatua, Charles Piutau and Matt Todd - and the return of experienced playmaker Dan Carter from a broken hand have added valuable enthusiasm with the series already wrapped up.
"I've worked a lot with him [Carter] at the Crusaders," Read said.
"He's going to bring another dynamic to the team. It will be certainly good to see him out there. It will be great having that guy leading the team around the park.
"It's been a challenging week with the weather and things but they boys are in a space where we've got guys coming in who are really excited. That just adds a little spark to the rest of the group. We're in a good space."
Read had dinner with 16 family members on Wednesday night at his uncle, and Yarrow Stadium groundsman, Bill's house. The No 8 admits there is some added pressure to look after the venue.
"There's a bit of family around and with him being the groundsman, he'll be pretty proud when I run out tomorrow night."
All Blacks: Israel Dagg, Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Rene Ranger, Daniel Carter, Piri Weepu, Kieran Read (c), Sam Cane, Victor Vito, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Andrew Hore, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Ben Franks, Steven Luatua, Matt Todd, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett, Charles Piutau.
France: Brice Dulin, Marc Andreu, Florian Fritz, Wesley Fofana, Yoann Huget, Remi Tales, Jean Marc Doussain; Antonie Claassen, Damien Chouly, Thierry Dusautior (c), Yoann Maestri, Alexandre Flanquart, Nicolas Mas, Benjamin Kayser, Thomas Domingo. Reserves: Dimitri Szarzewski, Eddy Ben Arous, Luc Ducalcon, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Bernard Le Roux, Maxime Machenaud, Camille Lopez, Mathieu Bastareaud.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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