Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

All Blacks still unhappy about Brisbane draw - Read

There was plenty of excitement among the All Blacks as they assembled in Auckland and prepared for their long flight to Edinburgh today, but the other prevailing emotion was disappointment - 12 days on they are still annoyed at their draw against Australia.

Kieran Read, who will captain the All Blacks for the first time when Richie McCaw is rested in either the first game against Scotland or next one against Italy in Rome, spoke of the feeling within the squad just before departure.

It was significant that the 18-18 Bledisloe Cup draw in Brisbane remains a sore point for the All Blacks. It stopped their winning streak at 16 matches, and while it wasn't a loss, it still feels like one, even now, and they are keen to make amends.

"Speaking to a few guys today, they are pretty disappointed still from that performance," said Read. "There is a little bit of extra motivation [to perform well in Europe] but really we want to play our game and play positive footy and hopefully we can showcase that."

Asked if coming so close to defeat could help the All Blacks in the long-term, Read disagreed. "I'm not too sure. You could pinpoint losses or draws where you learn the most. But we certainly don't want to be going down those tracks. You want to learn from your wins."

It might still hurt but there is no doubt it was a wake-up call. The All Blacks will be keen to restore their reputation among the famous stadiums of the north - Murrayfield, Olympic Stadium in Rome, Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and Twickenham.

And the All Blacks are still in the running for another record - their longest unbeaten streak. Now on 17, if they sweep Scotland, Italy, Wales and England and then the three tests against France in New Zealand in June next year, they will overtake the current record of 23 games without loss set in 1987-90.

The France challenge is something else altogether given the rivalry which has developed between the sides over the past decade or so, and won't yet be on the All Blacks' horizon.

Their major focus will be Scotland, who they play on November 12 (NZT). While defeat is unlikely against a country which has never beaten the All Blacks, Steve Hansen's men will be keen to hit the ground running. An afternoon kick-off as the temperatures begin to cool in the northern autumn should assist in this and their goal to play an up-tempo game.

Asked how the All Blacks remained so dominant on northern tours - they haven't lost since 2002, a defeat by England - while southern hemisphere rivals South Africa and Australia often trip up, Read said winning was enough motivation.

"Preparation is pretty key to putting a performance in each Saturday. It's nice that we can hopefully show the people up north how to play the game of rugby and we want to play a really nice style so hopefully we can do that."

As for whether being captain would change the way he played, Read answered: "I hope not. It's all about doing the business on the field and performing the best you can. Being a leader or not, I try to do that every game."


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