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All Blacks seek post-Samoa improvements

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6 days ago Angelo Risso

It's fair to say the All Blacks played reasonably well in their 12-try, 78-0 Test thrashing of Samoa last Friday night. © Stephen McCarthy It's fair to say the All Blacks played reasonably well in their 12-try, 78-0 Test thrashing of Samoa last Friday night. It's fair to say the All Blacks played reasonably well in their 12-try, 78-0 Test thrashing of Samoa last Friday night.

But they'll have to be even better, performance-wise, to topple the British and Irish Lions this weekend, second-row workhorse Brodie Retallick says.

The rangy Chiefs lock put in a full 80-minute performance against the Samoans at Eden Park, including 17 minutes as stand-in captain.

Despite the scoreline blowout, Retallick said his side had plenty to work on ahead of the first Lions clash on Saturday - with the Samoans and the Lions poles apart when it comes to defence, mauls and the set-piece.

They had shown their potential against the Maori All Blacks on Saturday, nabbing a 32-10 win as they squeezed the Maori pack into submission.

"They play the game maybe slightly differently to an Australian or South African team, but that's what rugby's all about - having the ability to overcome an opposition with different tactics, (and) in that aspect it's exciting," Retallick said.

"We know that we'll have to be better than we were Friday.

"For us, that's exciting because we get to challenge ourselves against some of the best players in the world."

At the heart of the Lions' strength against both the Maori and Crusaders was a lightning-quick defensive line speed, which put them on the territorial front foot and suffocated both sides' natural attacking tendencies.

The 26-year-old Retallick said there was no easy fix to the typically British rush-defence, but felt increasing exposure to the tactic at Super Rugby level - particularly via the Hurricanes - had helped to prepare Kiwi players.

Matching that intensity would be crucial.

"It's a wee bit of perceived pressure, you've got someone fast coming at you - we'll train that this week, no doubt, and get used to it," Retallick said.

"For a start, we know it's probably going to come, so that's one way (to adjust) - acknowledging that it's going to happen.

"Then we've got certain skills or aspects we want to try and adapt to beat it, (so) hopefully we can get outside or in behind them."

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