x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

War or nothing for All Blacks

Being battle-ready would not be enough when New Zealand meet France in the second and final Test here today. Sir Brian Lochore wants the All Blacks to be ready for war.

WELLINGTON // Being battle-ready would not be enough when New Zealand meet France in the second and final Test here today. Sir Brian Lochore wants the All Blacks to be ready for war. An inexperienced New Zealand side lost the physical battle against Les Bleus in the first Test in Dunedin, and for the newer members of the squad, the intensity and physical nature of international rugby was somewhat of a shock.

Lochore - a New Zealand rugby icon and former All Blacks coach and selector - was at the All Blacks' captain's run at Westpac Stadium yesterday, having a chat with coach Graham Henry, as his team went through final preparations before today's rematch with the French. "He said 'I think you were ready for battle last week but you weren't ready for war'," said the All Blacks coach. "I thought that was a pretty good statement. The boys just don't understand what is required until they've experienced it. Hopefully they will be ready for war.

"It takes a wee bit of time for the All Blacks to get into the groove that's necessary to play at that level of physicality. "The big thing is that you learn from it. We've got a French side who are pretty experienced. They are a very physical side, they are well led and they will bring the best out of the All Blacks. Hopefully we'll be good enough. "It's a learning experience and if you don't learn from it then you've got big problems."

There has been a greater urgency and aggression in All Blacks training this week as they look to right the wrongs from Carisbrook and they have been bolstered by the return of centre Conrad Smith and loose forward Jerome Kaino. But they will field their second loose forward combination in as many matches with two of those players not in their customary positions. Kaino, normally a No 8 for the Blues, will start on the blindside, while Kieran Read switches from his usual position at six to the back of the scrum.

Tanerau Latimer, who made his debut off the bench last week, has the sizeable task of taking over the openside duties in the absence of Richie McCaw and now Adam Thomson, who broke his hand last week. In Dunedin, it was clear the All Blacks struggled to adapt to the new rule at the breakdown which gives a player on his feet and hands first on the ball all the rights. But Henry was confident Latimer, a specialist No 7, would be up to the task this weekend.

"He's a pretty experienced young guy really," he added. * PA Sport