All Blacks expect lift in performance


Aaron Smith is confident a further week in camp will allow the All Blacks to free some mental clutter ahead of the second rugby Test against England.


The Highlanders halfback admits New Zealand’s 20-15 win in Auckland in the first match of the three-Test series was “a little bit messy”, with poor execution and plenty of mistakes.

He agrees with coach Steve Hansen that the performance was an indication of “cluttered minds” because of the amount of information that needed to be digested in week one.

“We all came in from our Super Rugby teams and you get hit with the whole new game plan and you’re trying to get the moves in,” Smith said.

“It is a lot and I guess that showed at times. You can’t do what you do just naturally because you’re maybe thinking about other things.”

Smith said the All Blacks did manage to show glimpses of their attacking potential and that boded well for a match in the Highlanders’ covered home venue on Saturday night.

“Another week together, it’s going to look good, and obviously a dry ball in Dunedin – there’s no excuses,” he said.

Hansen described what unfolded at Eden Park as a typical opening Test of the year.

He said everyone looked for the All Blacks to be perfect from the get-go and the players probably had the same expectation of themselves as well.

“But sometimes that’s not the reality and we struggled at times with our skill execution,” he said.

“Usually that’s an indicator that we’ve got cluttered minds. Then, if we have cluttered minds, it’s probably because we’ve made them cluttered through the week giving them too much to do.”

However, Hansen says some of that is necessary when getting players from five different franchises coming together.

“I think, another six days, we will step up a few more levels and be in a better position to really gauge where we’re at.”

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