Cape Town - Memories of a Bledisloe Cup loss to Australia in last year's
dead rubber are a factor for the All Blacks as they prepare for this year's
third outing in the series on neutral turf in Yokohama on Saturday.
All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock said a 3-0 whitewash of
Australia was something the world champions were attempting to do.
"It's been a couple of weeks since we played them last
and both teams have probably improved from where we were at the start of the
year," he told the All Blacks' official website.
Since playing Australia in the first two games of the Rugby
Championship, New Zealand had taken some lessons from subsequent games,
especially the Wellington loss to South Africa.
"We had a really good review and we've taken some
things that are hopefully going to grow our game," said Whitelock.
Hooker Codie Taylor said they were expecting a typically
combative approach from the Wallabies.
"They may have lost some games in the Rugby
Championship but whenever they play us you can tell they really back themselves
to beat us and it's our challenge to go out there this week knowing that we've
played them twice and been successful in those games to do it again in the
third one," he said.
"Last year we didn't nail it and that's what happened,
we lost so that's our challenge and we're just looking forward to getting stuck
into them again."
Whitelock said he would be making some decisions after the
northern tour on his prospective playing future post the Rugby World Cup.
He had been to Japan previously through promotions and
playing with New Zealand Universities so he understood how rugby operated there
but he was concentrating on playing in Japan first with the All Blacks.
"It's a massive week this week; we all know what
happened last year so I'm excited for this week ahead," he said.
Taylor said after two weeks off he was feeling good after
what had been a long season for all the side through both their Super Rugby and
Championship seasons. All the players had come back together excited about the
"It's a great opportunity for us as a team to see where
we're at in terms of playing some northern hemisphere teams," he said.
One of the lessons of their last experience playing a Test
at a neutral venue, the 2016 loss to Ireland in Chicago, had been to avoid
distractions and Taylor said they had arrived early in Japan but on Sunday they
had switched into normal Test mode.
"Today it definitely feels like that, we're ready to
face an Aussie team that will be up for the challenge," he added.
Taylor said it was noticeable from the amount of energy
brought by players who had been out for long periods with injuries like
front-rowers Dane Coles, Joe Moody and Nepo Laulala how much they were enjoying
"They're players that have got a lot of experience and
they can add something to the squad and that's going to be much needed this
week and against Japan and going on to Ireland and England, experience is
definitely going to be needed for those games," he said.