All Blacks need to tidy up ahead of RWC

2015-07-08 13:19
Richie McCaw (Getty Images)

Wellington - The All Blacks were given a massive wake-up call in their truncated Rugby World Cup build-up with a rusty performance before they subdued a combative Samoa 25-16 in Apia on Wednesday.

Richie McCaw's side are seeking to become the first team to defend the Webb Ellis trophy in England in a little over two months and while they had no illusions before heading into the match at Apia Park, they are now well aware they will need to improve.

"I'm proud of the way you stuck at it, because that is what test match footy is about," McCaw said in a pitch side interview.

"I'm just pleased we got up on the right side of the scoreboard.

"I just want to say remember this is a big campaign and we will remember this one and enjoy it but there is some work to do isn't there?"

The All Blacks head into the shortened Rugby Championship with a clash against Argentina next Friday in Christchurch, where they will be strengthened by the return of 17 players from the Highlanders and Hurricanes.

Some players coach Steve Hansen took to Samoa, however, will now be concerned for their future playing time in the All Blacks' final four games before they head to the World Cup.

Fullback Israel Dagg looked well short of any match fitness on Wednesday after he returned from a long-term injury.

Scrumhalf Andy Ellis, hoping to make an impression for a World Cup call-up after four years in the international wilderness, also had trouble against Samoa.

While their play at the back of the breakdown was untidy, Ellis lacked the snap and width in his pass that had characterised Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara's play this year.

That slower delivery put added pressure on the backs and with Smith and Perenara re-joining the team in Christchurch after their Super Rugby commitments there is some debate whether Ellis will get another chance.

Flyhalf Daniel Carter, despite showing how valuable he will be at the World Cup with his cultured tactical game and goal kicking, also lacked the zip of old, while inside centre Sonny Bill Williams failed to spark with his characteristic breaks or offloads in the tackle.

"If you asked for the perfect game to take you into the Rugby Championship this is it," Hansen told Fairfax Media in Apia.

"They put under a lot of pressure. Yes it was bloody tough but Test matches are meant to be.

"We weren't perfect but we've got a foundation to tidy up."

Read more on:    all blacks  |  richie mccaw  |  rugby

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