The best way to silence passionate home crowd is to start well, says All Black hooker.

They might sit on top of the Rugby Championship table and be overwhelming favourites to win the inaugural title but it doesn't mean the All Blacks are entirely happy with two games remaining.

Hooker Keven Mealamu, in fact, gave a frank assessment of how he felt the forward pack, in particular, had been performing so far in the four-team competition.

"To be pretty blunt, we've been adequate," he said. "We've been able to provide a bit of ball but we haven't been where we want to be. As an All Black forward, we want to come off the field feeling like we've done well and we've been able to get on top of opposition.

"It feels, maybe, in the last couple of weeks we haven't been able to do that."


It started with the scrappy 21-5 win over Argentina in Wellington and continued in the 21-11 slugfest with South Africa in Dunedin and it will be taken to an altogether more uncomfortable level on Sunday when they play the Pumas in La Plata.

Argentina are tough up front anyway but put them in front of fervent home support and they are like an overdone steak.

The All Blacks encountered that on their last trip to South America in 2006, when they battled to a 25-19 victory against a side who sniffed a chance of a first-ever win over New Zealand.

Mealamu was in the All Blacks squad for that match but didn't play, but it's a game that left a lasting impression on a player who has now donned the black jersey in 96 tests since his debut against Wales in 2002.

"I remember quite vividly how tough the game was and hearing the chanting of the crowd. It was an amazing atmosphere for us," he said.

"We love the passion over here. We love the way the supporters support their team. There's going to be quite a bit of noise out there and it's going to be something we will have to try to deal with. We are not used to that sort of noise in our stadiums back home."

It will make a good start imperative. Mealamu said they hoped to do that to nullify the effect of the crowd, but the Pumas will be equally motivated to keep the home support in it.

They did a good job of that against South Africa a month ago only to concede late points and allow the Springboks back into the match to clinch a 16-16 draw. It's a result that didn't go unnoticed. "The way they have played, they have showed they deserve to be in this competition," wing Ben Smith said.


"They are a pretty strong rugby force. I think the All Blacks have always had respect for Argentina. They are playing as we thought they would."

The test
Argentina v All Blacks
La Plata, noon Sunday.