England

All Blacks on the brink again

Mon, 16 Jun 2014 10:29
Steve-hansen-all-blacks-tra
There's a definite awareness in the group
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The All Blacks will get another crack at matching the record for consecutive Tier One Test victories when they face England in Hamilton this weekend.

The record of 17 victories has been reached by the All Blacks side of the late 1960s and Nick Mallett's Springbok team of the lates 1990s, and Richie McCaw will have his third shot as captain at joining them on Saturday.

The Wallabies have twice ended an All Blacks winning streak on 16 victories in recent years, springing a surprise  in Hong Kong back in 2010 and then earning a draw in Brisbane in 2012.

This weekend they will be up against an England team looking to avoid a whitewash, although both of New Zealand's victories have been pretty narrow.

Veteran hooker Keven Mealamu says that this time around the All Blacks are using the record as a motivational tool rather than trying to ignore it as they have in the past.

"There's a definite awareness in the group," he told Fairfax NZ.

"It would be special if we're able to get there but we're just making sure that we take care of the moment which is here and today.

"There's been a couple of close ones over the last couple of weeks so we just want to make sure we can lift our performance," he added.

With Conrad Smith and Israel Dagg ruled out through injury Highlanders wing Patrick Osborne has been called up to the squad as they prepare to face the only team that has beaten them since they won the World Cup in 2011.

Hansen is hopeful that influential No.8 Keiran Read would finally have recovered from his concussion issues to take his place in the team in Hamilton on Saturday.

"He has had a little bit of contact [training] and he's come through that," he said.
 

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