Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: Wallabies' 'niggle' helped us

Kieran Read of the All Blacks leads the haka during the Bledisloe Cup Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Australia. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Kieran Read of the All Blacks leads the haka during the Bledisloe Cup Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Australia. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

More than a week has passed since the bad-tempered Bledisloe Cup test between the All Blacks and Australia in Wellington and the dust hasn't quite settled yet, with loose forward Sam Cane today agreeing he felt the Wallabies' tactics were "odd" and lock Brodie Retallick suggesting they represented a "weakness".

Both teams are this week preparing for different challenges, the All Blacks taking on Argentina in Hamilton on Saturday before the Wallabies play South Africa in Brisbane, but the Chiefs pair, who are both set to play on their home turf at Waikato Stadium, were happy to re-visit the test at Westpac Stadium, won 29-9 by the All Blacks.

The Wallabies, fired-up by their thrashing at the hands of Steve Hansen's men the week before in Sydney, appeared keen to engage in off-the-ball incidents to the detriment of their game, and Cane said while the All Blacks adapted eventually, the early niggle caught them by surprise.

"We knew they would come out a lot more physical and potentially with a bit of niggle," he said. "The way they went about it was probably what caught us off guard just a fraction but we acknowledged it pretty quickly that that was how they were going to play.

"In a funny way it's a good thing when you realise the opposition are playing like that because it means they're not really focused on their footy as much. And as long as we worry about playing footy and executing our stuff right, then there should be some answers and I suppose that's how the game played out."

Retallick added: "We saw it as a bit more of a weakness from them that they were worried about putting that in and we were just playing rugby."

Asked what he thought about the approach of Michael Cheika's team, he said: "I don't mind it, to be fair. They play their way, we play ours. I don't mind the physical stuff.

"There's a line where you've got to stand up as a team and realise that you're not just going to stand there and take it and then there's a point where it diverts you from what you're doing. As an individual you need to be aware of when that is happening to you... at times it probably got the better of us, but I think overall we handled it pretty well as a team."

The honest replies from the pair in a press conference in Hamilton today are unlikely to win them many friends across the Tasman, especially given the non-citing of All Blacks prop Owen Franks for putting his hand on Wallabies lock Kane Douglas' face made such an impact there and around the world, despite Douglas saying it wasn't an issue.

They might also add an extra edge to the third Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park on October 22, a dead rubber that is unlikely to need it providing the controversial Cheika remains in charge.

There is a possibility that a victory in that test - where the Wallabies haven't won for 30 years - could break the record for consecutive victories among top tier nations for the All Blacks, who are currently on 13 wins.

"We're aware of it, that's for sure. It would be something pretty special," Cane said of the team's winning streak.

"We don't get ahead of ourselves or think we're better than we are because in test match footy every single week we've got goals and visions that we're striving for as a team and to do that we need to be consistent and consistently improve."

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