All Blacks captain Sam Cane speaks to the media after the defeat to Ireland. Video /
Having gone through the autopsy of defeat, the All Blacks are now ready to channel their frustrations in a comedic streak against Ireland that resembles a World Cup knockout tie.
Head bandaged, soaking wet, All Blacks captain Sam Cane cut a determined figure after training at the Hutt Rec ground on Tuesday in horrific conditions that are set to continue until this weekend in Wellington.
As well as setting the tone for the expected backlash, Cane swept away an apparent sledge from loose Irish striker Peter O’Mahony in the second Test defeat at Dunedin – a pitch jibe that would be in the direction of a unflattering comparison with Richie. McCaw.
“It’s just good rugby banter. It’s all part of the game, I don’t mind,” Cane said.
The All Blacks shouldn’t need a historic home defeat – or the reality of slipping to fourth place in the world rankings for the first time – to elicit a response.
Now that they’re in that position, however, with plenty at stake and potential careers on the line, Cane is confident a week is enough to alter a performance that has raised widespread concerns – of being beaten at the forward to the mishandling that crippled the attack.
“Rugby can be a simple game. We’ve had 27 unforced errors. When you think about the number of minutes we’ve had the ball it’s just ridiculous and our discipline has let us down massively,” Cane said. .
“A lot can change in rugby in seven days. We have to make sure we get that right, but the belief is strong, the group is tight, we’re together. I don’t feel like there’s any fault lines inside the camp.
“We had a good day yesterday, highlighting the mistakes we want to improve on. One of them was unforced errors, so there’s no better way to practice them than in conditions like There’s every chance it’ll be like that on Saturday too.
“The drive is massive. We’re hugely disappointed with what we handed out on Saturday. Credit to Ireland, they played really well but we have to be so much better. Our drive is we’re proud of the shirt and we’re not satisfied with what we released, so we are working very hard to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
World Rugby rankings are often hard to fathom, but the All Blacks slipping to fourth place – behind France, Ireland and South Africa – is a true reflection of their struggles following victory in their last four tests.
For a team that has relished a decade of dominance as the world’s No.1 ranked nation, their decline on that measuring stick adds another layer of angst.
“If I’m honest, we haven’t paid too much attention to it. I don’t even understand how the rankings work,” Cane said. “It’s one of our goals to make sure we get back to No.1, but we realize the process around that is working consistently every week and at the moment we’re not doing it well enough.
“We have enough on our hands to digest what happened over the weekend and focus on this week. Things like the world rankings take care of themselves when we play well. That’s where lies all our energy.”
Assessing the mood within the All Blacks camp, as pressure and criticism mounted from outside, Cane echoed Ardie Savea’s sentiments of welcoming the chance to unleash the fury and make amends in an atmosphere of ruthless cauldron.
“I would describe him as really focused and determined,” Cane said. “When we walk into the park, we’re here to work. We trained really well today. There’s a lot of little rugby talk going on during the week. There’s nothing to complain about.
“It’s about channeling our emotions in the right way. We’re angry and disappointed with ourselves, but there’s no point in dwelling too long on this performance. We have to pick ourselves up and change our state. early on to highlight the things we need to improve. It’s energizing and exciting, and then we’re saving those other emotions for Saturday night.
“The situation is not what we wanted, but now we are looking at it and embracing it. It’s a good challenge for us. It’s do or die – just like the World Cup stuff. J can’t wait to be there.”
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