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All Blacks admit to feeling the pressure for first time in series as Lions take momentum into Auckland decider

Mirror logo Mirror 4/07/2017 Alex Spink

© Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited The All Blacks have confessed to feeling the pressure for the first time since the Lions touched down in New Zealand, writes Alex Spink in Queenstown.

Brodie Retallick, star of a team that has won back-to-back World Cups, admitted that losing their eight-year unbeaten home record to Sam Warburton’s side had unsettled them.

“Right now, we are probably feeling a little bit more pressure in the group,” said the giant second row. “It's 1-1, it’s do or die, now or never I suppose.

“I have no doubt there is going to be a bit of edge among the group. We didn't perform to the level that is expected of us.”

Not only did they lose in Wellington, the Kiwis’ attack was shut down for the first time in 39 Tests.

They won’t say it has shaken their belief, but there is an undeniable anxiety ahead of the decider in Auckland.

New Zealand are 80 minutes from losing their 23-year unbeaten record at Eden Park AND dropping a series to the Lions for the first time since 1971.

They also have the headache of who should fill the boots of banned centre Sonny Bill Williams. Malakai Fekitoa appears to be favourite. Little wonder Retallick compared Saturday’s clash to a World Cup final.

"If you look at like a World Cup final, some people may only go to one World Cup,” he said. ”I guess this is also like a once in a lifetime opportunity to play the Lions, and then try to win a Lions series.

"In that aspect, it's massive. The history is not going to help us now, it is about what we are going to do to create our own history.

“What happened on the weekend is done. We can't change that result now. We've just got to get it right this week. We are in control of the history now.”

Retallick played a match-winning role in the first Test but the Lions got their own back by outmuscling their hosts at the Westpac Stadium.

"The physicality and intensity of the first two matches have been huge," he said. “Especially on their behalf, I thought they were a lot more physical and confrontational than in week one.

“We need to sort that out and make sure we're going back at it this Saturday because we can't let it happen again.”

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