All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams could be ready to play France in the third Test. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

WELLINGTON – Despite a convincing win in the first Test against France last week, New Zealand are seeking an even more comprehensive result in the second Test in Wellington on Saturday.

The hosts romped to a 52-11 victory in the first Test, but the top rugby side on the globe are intent on delivering another standout performance.

"We're pretty satisfied with last week. Upon reflection you go through the game and when we got our opportunities, particularly in the second half, we were pretty lethal when we took them," All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said.

The first Test had been a case of not trying too much so the players were clear in what they were doing and now it was a mental challenge to improve their game while not cluttering up the players' minds.

"We've got to figure out how we impose ourselves a little earlier in the game. I thought the French played really well, defended well, for that first 50 minutes while making it quite tough for us so there's still plenty for us to nail down," he said.

Being a first Test, France had put a lot of energy into the game. The All Blacks had applied a lot of focus and everything happened very fast but that still had to be the case for 80 minutes.

That was the challenge the All Blacks would be taking into the game.

"I'm not sure what the French will do but our challenge is to make sure we get our focus for 80 minutes and learn not to get too flustered when the moments don't go our way. That had been an issue for them in the first half, he said.

Foster said one of the challenges for coaches was to come back from a loss like that France suffered in Auckland. But he said if the French put the scoreline of the game aside there would be a lot that they were happy with. 

The All Blacks were anticipating the French side would have some changes, but would not be a lot different from that in the first Test.

At the same time the series was about getting a platform in place for the year and there had been a lot of rotation at training to have everyone in the squad up to speed. And in Test matches the concentration was on developing combinations and that was likely to mean there would not be a lot of changes for a while.

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"That's been the case for the last six or seven years but we are also not afraid to tweak around the edges," he said.

But there was also a need to keep an eye on workload and fatigue issues that could occur.

Foster responded to claims by former Test referee Rob Debney who wrote in his Times column that the referees were soft on the All Blacks.

"We don't think we get any favours from the referees at all. They've got a tough job and I don't know a top referee that doesn't go out there to ref it just the way he sees it," he said.

The All Blacks had been one of the sides who conceded most yellow cards last year so he didn't see how that suggested the referees were soft on them.

Foster said centre Jack Goodhue had run freely with the side for the first time on Tuesday and prop Tim Perry, while still in the rehabilitation group was participating more in training and that was encouraging for the side.

Centre Sonny Bill Williams was not training fully but he was doing enough to keep interested and it was a good learning week for him. If he could take the same steps he did this week during the next four or five days then he became a prospect for selection consideration for the third Test. 

African News Agency (ANA)


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