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All Blacks aim for slicker performance

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/06/2016
Assistant Coach Ian Foster speaks to media during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Hutt Recreation Ground on June 14, 2016 in Wellington, New Zealand. © Getty Images Assistant Coach Ian Foster speaks to media during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Hutt Recreation Ground on June 14, 2016 in Wellington, New Zealand.

The All Blacks will be aiming for more control at the rucks and a slicker backline for the second Test against Wales.

The hosts overcame their traditional first match of the year rustiness to eventually overrun the Welsh 39-21 in Auckland and are favoured to continue their 63-year unbeaten streak again in Wellington this weekend.

Assistant coach Ian Foster says training since the first Test has increased in intensity and the players are more focused.

"Now we've put a bit of a stake in the ground, we've learned a little bit about us, a little bit more about them."

The All Blacks lost their ball at the breakdown too many times in Auckland and a lot of times the players weren't strong enough over the ball, he said.

Wales were also able to slow the All Blacks down in some rucks, he said.

"If we think it's a weakness we've got to get better at it."

Meanwhile, vice captain and fullback Ben Smith believes the All Black backline - this year missing the combined 309-Test experience of Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith - will improve.

Wales' rush defence had pressured the All Blacks in phase play, he said.

"As the game on went on we probably learnt a lot ... and started to adjust to what Wales were doing," Smith said.

"Those combinations started to get better as the game went on."

The All Blacks will name their side for the second Test on Thursday.

Foster said injured Chiefs halfback Tawera Kerr Barlow may have recovered enough to be in the selection frame. He was doing almost everything at training.

"He's certainly looking like he's going to be very close."

All Black captain Kieran Read performs the haka during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales at Eden Park on June 11, 2016. © Getty Images All Black captain Kieran Read performs the haka during the International Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Wales at Eden Park on June 11, 2016.
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