Luke McAlister says the All Blacks will be a much improved side to the one that ran out in Bloemfontein.
Coach Graham Henry was reluctant to use any excuses in the aftermath of the Boks’ opening Tri-Nations match, but did say he had to train his players differently. Travel didn’t allow the All Blacks a full week of preparation and McAlister says the two extra days’ build-up will help address areas of concern.
‘We are definitely more active than we were last week,’ McAlister told keo.co.za. ‘Wednesday last week was our first big hit out, but now we’ve got straight into it on Monday.
‘We can’t say the short turnaround time [between the Australia and South Africa Tests] was a factor, but to have a longer week will give us more time to prepare. We are building throughout the week and are coming right. We will cut out those mistakes and we’re confident we can win on Saturday.’
The All Blacks are chasing an away victory that would put them in prime position for a fifth consecutive Tri-Nations title.
‘If we get a result, we know our destiny is in our own hands for the rest of the competition. We are targeting it as a game we have to win. However, we didn’t target it as bigger than any other,’ said McAlister.
Durban has vastly different weather compared to a freezing Bloemfontein, a factor also aiding the visitors’ build-up. On a warm winter’s day with temperatures in the mid-20s, all of the All Blacks are enjoying their time in the sun.
‘It’s a lovely part of the world. We’ve got the beach right here and the sun shines – in winter!’
Henry has labeled this a mini-series and the All Blacks’ utility back says they will do their utmost to ensure they aren’t defeated two Tests in a row.
‘It would be very disappointing if we went down in matches back to back,’ he said. ‘The expectations back home are really high, and our public doesn’t expect us to lose. We see that as a positive and use it as the fuel to perform.’
By Grant Ball, in Durban