All Blacks preparing for Pocock’s return


All Blacks preparing for Pocock’s return

All Blacks preparing for Pocock’s return

Assistant coach Ian Foster said they always prepared for different types of scenarios and having Pocock introduced as soon as he had recovered from a troublesome calf injury that kept him out of much of the Super Rugby season was an example of that.

“You always prepare for that sort of scenario. But we have played against those two [Pocock and Michael Hooper] when they play together, a number of times.


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“They’re quality footballers so we’re preparing for that. But we also know if he doesn’t make it, there will be someone else there who will do a job. Ultimately, whatever happens on Saturday will happen but we are guessing that he will play,” he said.

Foster said the All Blacks had been slow to switch into full gear in the first two weeks of the Championship and both Australia and South Africa had been able to make the most of their early elimination from the Super Rugby playoffs.

“It certainly felt in the last few Tests we were a couple of weeks behind South Africa, for example, in preparation. They looked like they were a team who’d been together a bit more than us and kind of knew their game a bit better than ours,” Foster said.

But reducing the squad from 39 to 34 for Perth had helped the side and it had been good to narrow the number of players down a little.

“You can just feel the team tightening up a bit and, particularly, there is always an excitement when you play Australia. They’re special games for both teams.”

Just what difference it would be playing an Australian team without Israel Folau Foster said he couldn’t answer that question because it hadn’t happened yet.

“When you go through a normal analysis you always look at strengths and weaknesses and you prepare accordingly.

“They’ve been a team who used, the aerial part of their game [which] has been pretty big when he’s been there. It’s probably less big now that he’s not, so that part has changed.

“But the rest I am not sure, a lot more has changed. It’s like anyone. When you lose a player, you find someone else and you may tweak the job description a little bit but generally the job is pretty similar,” he said.

Australia were always a tough opponent, and the Bledisloe Cup ensured there was always an edge in preparation.

“They’ve always been really competitive when they play us. We’ve never had an easy game against them. Sometimes the score has blown out a little bit…they’re a team that have been able to get under our skins the most, probably,” he said.

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