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Kaino backs All Blacks young guns

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/08/2016

Kaino believed this current crop of young talent was probably "a step ahead" of where he had been as a 21-year-old. © AP Images Kaino believed this current crop of young talent was probably "a step ahead" of where he had been as a 21-year-old. Jerome Kaino remembers how much of a shock to the system it was when he first joined the All Blacks environment.

But the veteran of 70 Tests but believes the young guns who have been called into the All Blacks squad ahead of Saturday's second Bledisloe Cup Test are coping well with the transition.

Kaino was aged 21 when he was selected for the 2004 end of year tour where he played against the Barbarians but didn't earn a cap.

"It was the end of year tour so you had a lot of time together. It was just trying to stick with the senior players as much as I could to learn off them as much as I could," the 33-year-old flanker recalled.

"From what I was used to, coming from my first season in NPC to being thrown into an end of year tour was quite a shock but I loved it."

Young back Rieko Ioane and hooker Liam Coltman are probably feeling something similar in Wellington this week after being called in as injury replacements. Damian McKenzie and Seta Tamanivalu had a brief taste of All Blacks life in June, while Anton Lienert-Brown was called up just prior to the Rugby Championship when Sonny Bill Williams was injured playing sevens at the Olympics.

Kaino, who eventually made his Test debut in 2006, believed this current crop of young talent was probably "a step ahead" of where he had been as a 21-year-old coming into an All Blacks squad, but saw some similarities with the players eager to soak up as much information from the senior players as they could.

"They are a little bit shy and stand-offish initially," Kaino said.

"But then you see once they get their confidence and get their understanding on how we operate in the team then they break out of their shell. That's what we want. We want to them to feel comfortable as fast as possible and to get to grips with All Blacks life. They've been great."

Kaino felt the best way to do that was to lead by example.

"That's a lot more important that barking at them and telling them what to do. We're not in their faces all the time."

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