New Zealand wrap (Thurs)

Keo.co.za brings you news from the All Blacks’ tour.

Donald pushes aside Hong Kong howler

After a poor effort against Australia Stephen Donald is grateful for a second starting chance against Scotland.

Donald was one among many All Blacks who had a terrible first half in last week’s Test in Hong Kong, and it came as no surprise when he was subbed shortly after the break. The Chiefs pivot admits he’s lucky to have another chance.

“I’m relieved to get another go, there’s a few things I took out of that game and hopefully I’ll implement them a bit better on Saturday,” he said. “I felt I was solid without sort of doing anything else. I may have played a little bit within myself.”

Scotland’s forwards are unlikely to place the All Blacks under as much pressure as the Aussies did last Saturday, and this should make it easier for Donald to control proceedings.

“It was a little bit frustrating last week the way the game unfolded. All week you build up and you have a few little plans in your mind that you’d love to achieve but that’s rugby, you’re not always going to get that perfect front foot ball.

“They slowed our ruck ball down, so she was pretty tough to operate in and get any sort of roll on.”

New Zealand ‘B’s won’t lack motivation

Graham Henry has slammed suggestions the All Blacks will be taking it easy against Scotland this weekend.

Henry has allowed a number of fringe players a start given that this should be the easiest Test of New Zealand’s five-international tour. But the All Blacks coach is adamant these players will give it their all, and that there is still pressure on the Tri-Nations champions.

“We’ve always got tons to play for mate,” said Henry. “I know what it’s like when we lose. The knives are very, very, very sharp. We never go into a Test match without having an objective to play the best we can.

“Hopefully that’s good enough to win. We take that particularly seriously, the team takes it seriously, New Zealand rugby takes it seriously and the coaches are paranoid about it.”

Henry believes the players selected to play Scotland will also be keen to impress the coaches and force themselves into contention for bigger fixtures.

Rokocoko eyes fresh start

After a long Test layoff due to injury Joe Rokocoko can’t wait to have a crack at the Scots this Saturday.

The All Blacks winger has not played a Test since 2007, but is keen to repay the New Zealand management for the faith invested in him. Wingers like Anthony Tuitavake and Richard Kahui have been making waves in his absence, and he’ll have to fight to retain his position.

“You never own this jersey, you’re more of a caretaker,” he said. “But since last year I just wanted to come back. I’ve been a part of this team since 2003, I know what this team’s all about and you miss it. You miss the challenges, the environment and the big games, the big Test matches.

“Being chosen for the squad was a true blessing for me. I feel like I’m making my debut again.”

More to follow…