There might be a few players from the Crusaders who will have extra motivation in the All Blacks' camp this week.

While it's hard to tell how much a loss at franchise level will directly transfer to the international game, there's no doubt Todd Blackadder's men will be doing that little bit extra under Steve Hansen's watch.

As the All Blacks eye a record-setting 18th-straight test win when they meet the Wallabies in Sydney next weekend, there has been plenty of chatter about whether the Waratahs' Super Rugby triumph will help the Australian side.

I think that game will only serve to fire up the likes of Richie McCaw, Sam Whitelock and Kieran Read.


As for talk of the winning streak, I believe the old cliche of 'you're only good as your last game' is more relevant in the professional era and the All Blacks will just want to employ a game-by-game philosophy.

There's no denying Australia are pulling closer to the benchmark set by Hansen's side. I've received countless texts this week from across the Tasman reminding me the Wallabies will be gunning for us.

One player who will miss the start of the Rugby Championship is Daniel Carter and, while there have been some questioning whether he can make next year's World Cup following his latest injury setback, there's little reason to make me think he should be discarded.

The veteran five-eighths has too much class and, given how well he played in the No 12 jersey for the Crusaders during their charge to the final, it should give people confidence he could cover Ma'a Nonu should he fall over some time this year.

Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett are clearly the future in the No 10 jersey and if Cruden is Hansen's main man then he must be given plenty of opportunity to work further with halfback Aaron Smith.

There's a great contest on for the fullback spot and, based on his last test in the black jersey, it will be hard not to pick Ben Smith who was sensational against England in June. The wings are also well-stocked, with Julian Savea, Cory Jane and Charles Piutau all threatening.

If there's one glaring weakness for the All Blacks, though, it's at hooker. Dane Coles is the man to take the All Blacks forward but, behind Keven Mealamu, there are few up to test level.

The upcoming battery of young guns have all had their time in camp with the All Blacks but none have shown they're ready for the next step yet. But, then again, many thought Sean Fitzpatrick wasn't ready when he was given a chance and he turned out fine.