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‘We’re not fading,’ say bullish All Blacks

The All Blacks believe 40 minutes of cut-throat rugby was enough to prove they aren’t a team on the decline.

 
 

220px-Steve-HansenThey also say it has inflicted telling mental damage on England.

The 36-13 third Test win in Hamilton on Saturday was the All Blacks’ best performance since their momentous 38-27 defeat of South Africa in Johannesburg last October.

They have since had their hands full against Australia in Dunedin and then away to France, England and Ireland in Europe last November.

They were also outplayed by the English for significant periods in each of the first two home Tests this month.

Their struggles, while still winning, were identified by some observers as evidence an ageing New Zealand team were on a gradual slide and would be vulnerable at next year’s World Cup.

Assistant coach Ian Foster says top-speed, accurate rugby in the third quarter of the second Test in Dunedin and then again in the first half at Hamilton, when they surged 29-6 clear, was the perfect response.

“I think we’ve built nicely through this series and hopefully that’s dispelled a few myths that a few of the boys are waning,” Foster told AAP.

“There’s certainly guys that came in pretty jaded from Super Rugby and have perhaps taken a little bit longer to adjust to international rugby.

“But overall we’re pretty comfortable.”

Head coach Steve Hansen says it is instead England who have much to be concerned about.

He says the World Cup hosts will take time to recover from Saturday’s capitulation in the first half, when most of their 28 missed tackles were accrued.

“I think psychologically it hurt them. Particularly that first half, there was really only one side in it.”

The teams meet again at Twickenham in November, with England players getting the next month off to stew while coaching staff assess their inadequacies.

There is no such luxury for the top New Zealand players, who return to Super Rugby this week and a series of high-stakes derbies heading into the playoffs.

Hansen says he will cross fingers that they remain injury-free ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup Test in in August.

“We’ll have to restart again for Sydney but I’m very confident that we’ve set a good foundation,” Hansen said.

“And we’ve got a bit more preparation than we had this month.”

 

 
 

 
[vivafbcomment]