5 Jul 2017

All Blacks up the ante

12:20 pm on 5 July 2017

There's been a noticeable lift in intensity at All Blacks training ahead of this weekend's deciding test against the British and Irish Lions according to flanker Jerome Kaino.

Flanker Jerome Kaino at All Blacks practice.

Flanker Jerome Kaino at All Blacks practice. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

With the series level at one-all after the Lions' 24-21 win in Wellington last weekend, the decider in Auckland this Saturday promises to be another physical encounter.

Monday's All Blacks team debrief would've been unusual territory for many in the squad given the last time New Zealand lost on their own turf was back in 2009 but Kaino believed it was no different than if they'd won.

He did say however there was a definite edge to their first full training on Tuesday, a sign of how seriously they're taking the task at hand.

"We know the areas we need to improve on, and we know if we get that right we'll put in the performance we want. Coming off training the guys were upbeat," Kaino said.

Following last year's historic loss to Ireland in Chicago, the All Blacks came back with a vengeance in the second test in Dublin, winning 21-9 while sending a number of the Shamrocks to the injury ward with a battle hardened performance.

A similar sort of display is expected from the men in black at their fortress - Eden Park, on Saturday.

Kaino, who was pulled from the field after 25 minutes to make up for the midfield hole left by Sonny Bill Willliams' red card, will be one of the chief imposers of said physicality.

"As you saw at the weekend both teams are quite keen to get amongst it and it's quite willing out there. Discipline is a huge part of it, and it's probably a way to let either side off the hook.

"But we're not going to be cautious about anything. We want to impose ourselves physically like they (the Lions) did at the weekend. It's an area we want to improve on."

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster Photo: Photosport

With history on their side (they haven't lost at Eden Park since 1994) there's a level of confidence the All Blacks can turn last weekend's meager performance around in Auckland this weekend according to assistant coach Ian Foster.

"We've done some good stuff the last two weeks, yet it's pretty clear there's more in us. We've got to make sure, whether it's wet, cold, windy or whatever, we are still able to express ourselves the way we want to.

"We've proven we can get parity and front-foot ball and we've got to make sure we're smart in using that. There's a lot at stake, and everyone will be trying to impose themselves physically. It's whether you are smart enough to control that and be effective with it."

An improved performance is assured from the All Blacks, but something similar can be expected from the Lions, who'll be doing their best to crack the homesides' Eden Park fortress and give coach Warren Gatland his greatest ever win.