8 Oct 2016

All Blacks have 'clear heads' despite tough week

7:40 pm on 8 October 2016

All Blacks captain Kieran Read says his side will go into their final Rugby Championship clash against South Africa in Durban with clear heads following a tough week that saw halfback Aaron Smith sent home.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read during All Blacks win against Australia, August 27 2016

All Blacks captain, Kieran Read Photo: AFP

Smith received a one-match suspension from New Zealand Rugby this week, after admitting he had a liaison with a female in a disabled toilet while on team duty at Christchurch airport last month.

Read avoided referring directly to the incident at his captain's news conference in Durban, but said the team were feeling no ill-effects of their hectic travel schedule and the loss of their regular number nine.

"It's nice to get to Friday and just know we have to put the finishing touches to the preparation and go into tomorrow with clear heads," Read said.

"We just need to turn up and play our brand of rugby. Right now, we are in a good space."

The All Blacks are chasing a 17th Test win in a row, which would equal a record mark for top-tier rugby nation - a record they have achieved twice before.

"History suggests it's pretty tough to move past this level where we are at now," Read said.

"We want to go and get 17, but you can't be thinking about records once you are on the field."

Read disagrees with former All Black World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry that the Springboks are on a downward spiral, despite a difficult year for the side in which they have lost three times in the Rugby Championship.

"Graham Henry likes making remarks about opposition teams to be honest," Read said with a chuckle.

"We truly respect them. The history of our two teams, we know how much it means to put on the Springbok jumper, which is the same as the All Black jumper for us."

The number eight said the All Blacks were expecting a fast match and were ready for a physical forward challenge.