By Liam Napier in Rome

Defeat to Ireland can't be erased but having reviewed the tape the All Blacks are confident they will this week prove their ability to learn and grow from recent failings. That involves finishing this season with a statement performance in Rome, and regaining their attacking mojo.

Much has been made of the All Blacks' attempt to change the way they play in order to counter stifling rush defences now commonplace in the global game.

Rather than reinvent the wheel totally, a more accurate summation is the need to tweak which, in some ways, has seen the All Blacks take one step back in their quest to make two forward.


There's no denying it has taken longer than expected for these subtle changes to be ingrained against quality opposition on foreign soil.

But come next year's World Cup, the All Blacks believe they will have multiple blueprints to roll out against contrasting opposition as a direct result of this difficult period.

The past fortnight in London and Dublin, while disappointing in terms of performance, could therefore prove invaluable.

"It's not that we've got some sort of cunning plan to have this different game plan but we're trying to be very open to what's happening in front of us and what other teams are doing," All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said. "We might be making some changes but so are other teams.

"Other teams are defending differently and changing the way they play against us so we've got to try different things against different opposition and you learn from all those experiences.

"At a World Cup you're playing very different teams with different styles. We need to be able to do two or three things well.

"We'll be changing our game right through a World Cup. That's what always happens. We did it last time. You're always trying to add bits and pieces to what you're doing the key is to get the components clear.

"Clearly Ireland showed us up a little bit so we've got a bit of work to do against that type of team."

Sam Whitelock reacts during the All Blacks' defeat to Ireland. Photo /Getty
Sam Whitelock reacts during the All Blacks' defeat to Ireland. Photo /Getty

Externally at least, one try in the last two tests has set off alarm bells given the rarity of such an occurrence for the All Blacks, a team with so many gifted attacking talents.

From suggestions of the backline being too flat to the belief in some quarters that Beauden Barrett should be shifted to fullback, there has been no shortage of theories posed as to how the All Blacks should remedy struggles to create and convert attacking chances.

Though confident it will eventually click, Barrett spoke today about the frustration of seeing so many opportunities but not yet being able to get the ball to where it needs to go to execute in key moments.

Despite heavy rain expected to continue in Rome this week, Italy should provide a chance to regain attacking fluidity. Even then, though, the challenge will be replicating that against stronger opposition.

"We're not panicking about not scoring a try last week we're just disappointed with how we played," Foster said. "Sometimes you're going to get tight games and that sort of thing happens. We just want to play well and go away with a bit of confidence that the path we're on is a good one.

"There's always a lot of panic around us when we drop a game and that's to be expected but it's happened before and it'll happen again. We just don't want it to happen very often.

"We've got no issues with high expectations and disappointment when we don't play to the levels that we want. That's the passion of our supporters. For us it doesn't change what we're doing.

"We're happy with the understanding of the group and the direction but we still haven't got some habits to the degree we want them. Some of that is player understanding but also as a coaching group we're analysing how we're delivering it."