Wed 16 Aug 2017 | 09:04

All Blacks looking for 'knock-out punch'

Ian Foster talks selection options for first Bledisloe Test
Wed 16 Aug 2017 | 09:04

All Blacks looking for 'knock-out punch'


Australia and New Zealand get the Rugby Championship underway in what doubles as the Bledisloe Cup challenge.

All Black assistant coach Ian Foster suggested the Kiwis had lost their ability to finish off opportunities – which may have cost them a series victory against the British and Irish Lions last month.

"At Test match level, it doesn't matter who you are, you have got to make sure that if you have got a team on the ropes that you take advantage of it and we weren't as good as we needed to be," he said in an interview on the All Blacks' official website.

They had got it right in the first Test and adapted for large spells in the second Test when down to 14 men, he said.

There had been some good lessons which was positive and while they didn't like a drawn series it had tightened the side up and they had gone back and got a true picture of where they were at and that showed they were not quite where they wanted to be.

"That's why I've said this is a massive game for us in Sydney," Foster said.

"For us it's a big chance to start getting the game back where we want it to be," he said.

The other big issues in the build-up is the likely return of Sonny Bill Williams.

Williams was originally ruled out of the tournament opener, when he was suspended following his dismissal for a dangerous shoulder charge on British and Irish Lions wing Anthony Watson in the second test of the three-match series last month.

The 32-year-old, however, was cleared to play two weeks ago after a convoluted appeals process ended controversially with World Rugby expressing their surprise at the decision.

Foster said Williams is anxious to just get out and play against the Wallabies.

"He's certainly raring to go," Foster told reporters in Sydney.

"He's done his four-game suspension. It's been an awkward time for him, its been tough.

"But he's made sure that he has used that time smartly, he's trained well and been able to get on top of a couple of niggles.

"He's back charging around, you've got to sort of hold him back a little bit."

Sources: & Reuters

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All Blacks Looking For 'knock-out Punch' | Rugby365