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

Rugby: Testy tactics backfired in capital - All Blacks

All Blacks flanker Sam Cane, scoring against the Wallabies in Wellington, was bemused by the niggle from the Australians. Photo / Mark Mitchell
All Blacks flanker Sam Cane, scoring against the Wallabies in Wellington, was bemused by the niggle from the Australians. Photo / Mark Mitchell

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 All Blacks loose forward Sam Cane yesterday saying 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 on Saturday before the Wallabies play South Africa in Brisbane, but the Chiefs pair, who are 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 a week before in Sydney, appeared keen to engage in off-the-ball incidents to the detriment of their game. Cane said that, 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 pretty quickly 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."

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."

The honest replies from the pair in a press conference in Hamilton yesterday 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.

There is a possibility that a victory in that test - where the Wallabies haven't won for 30 years - could herald 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. To do that, we need to be consistent and consistently improve."

- NZ Herald

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