Turning their attention to a new Tri Nations opponent in Argentina would act as a freshener for an All Blacks team looking to bounce back from a loss to Australia at the weekend.
Adding to the preparation for the clash in Sydney was the unknown factor Argentina represent as a result of not having played Test rugby during the Covid-19-affected year, although having had plenty of time to get ready in Australia for their Test season.
Hooker Dane Coles said Saturday’s loss was frustrating, but the All Blacks had opportunities they didn’t take and had been in the game until the end.
“It doesn’t make it any easier but it gives us plenty to work on for the end of the week [against Argentina],” he told the All Blacks’ official website.
Having played four consecutive Tests against Australia, there was some excitement about facing a new opponent in Argentina, who have played Australia A twice in preparation for the series.
With new opposition, it freshened the team’s approach and required more homework to be ready.
“It’s a little unknown. They’re a very physical team and they’ve been over here a while training, so we’re looking forward to it,” added Coles.
With so much talk after the Test about the high-tackle red cards, Coles said they did so much practice on tackling they had to lower their sights to avoid getting red cards again.
It was something they had worked on at the World Cup, and they need to get back on the tackle bags and lower their heights. It hadn’t been only Ofa Tu’ungafasi who was guilty, but there were other penalties for high tackles as well.
“Even if you’ve got only a split-second we have to make sure we get under the ball and not attack the head,” said Coles.
Centre Anton Lienert-Brown said: “We fronted physically and the intent was there but we missed a lot of opportunities. Just sitting in the review, hindsight is a great thing and if we had our time again we would have executed those opportunities a lot better.”
They hadn’t played the way they had trained and hadn’t executed the pictures they should have seen. They hadn’t achieved the standard they set for themselves and losing always hurt when they didn’t reach the standard expected of the All Blacks.
Lienert-Brown said the loss would put ‘fire in the belly’ and they were hopeful they could turn that around in what they were expecting would be a tough contest. The Argentinians were passionate players who would be excited about playing their first Test of the year against the All Blacks.
“They are looking sharp and have got some outstanding players and we expect them to turn up like the Pumas do normally,” he said.