ABs prepare for Boks' backlash
The All Blacks settled in to their Dunedin hotel yesterday to watch a video nasty - analysing the tape of their disjointed 21-5 win over Argentina on Saturday.
"The pleasing thing was the way the players were figuring things out as we went along. The first 40 was terrible and the conditions made it very hard to play the way we wanted to play," All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said. "It probably forced us into making a few decisions we probably shouldn't have made and that didn't help us stretch the Argentinians the way we wanted to.
"We are playing at an intensity and speed level that we're pretty excited about, that we're getting right.
"We haven't quite got the finishing on it just yet, but particularly last week I thought the last 30 minutes of the game showed we were reasonably close to getting some things right."
Foster said apart from star first five Dan Carter - who had already been ruled out of this Saturday's game against South Africa - the All Blacks had no injury concerns.
"There was certainly a lot of ice in the shed afterwards, but I think in the next couple of days we should have a full roster."
Foster was wary of a Springboks backlash after the South Africans contrived to lose 19-26 to Australia on Saturday, after holding what looked like a comfortable 13-3 lead at one stage.
"It was a desperate test. I think both teams really threw everything at that game and it was tight right up until the end. We expect nothing different on Saturday night. South Africa are coming off a draw and a loss and it's really important for them that they get a win. The All Blacks-South Africa rivalry is legendary, so we know it's going to be a very ferocious battle."
After a few chilly minutes off the bench in Wellington, Otago utility back Ben Smith was glad to be back home with the Forsyth Barr stadium roof over his head.
"It's a great stadium for running rugby and it's a great place to play," he said.
"It will be awesome to get in there. I went to a couple of Rugby World Cup games there last year and there's a great atmosphere when it's a packed stadium. It's pretty exciting."
Smith is adept at fullback and wing and has also been covering centre for the All Blacks. Smith said he didn't mind where he played, so long as he got on the paddock in front of his hometown fans.
"I suppose you just have to prepare a wee bit differently [coming off the bench]," he said.
"You have to do your homework during the week on a couple of positions so I know what my role is if I come on in a certain position.
"You are involved with the defence and the defensive patterns a lot more. It's quite different from fullback in that regard. Attacking-wise you're also a lot closer to the action. I don't want to say which I prefer, at the moment I'm just happy to play wherever. I'm just happy to get out there whenever I get my chance."