Cape Town - All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith said the team has been
challenged on their northern hemisphere tour to play attractive rugby and to
finish the 2017 year well.
Smith said he had his own reasons for wanting to finish the
year on a high which was a challenge having played 20-odd games during the
"I feel in good shape physically, that's the main
thing. I don't feel like I'm hanging in there, trying to hang on. I'm just
looking to try and prepare and I feel good and I'm excited about the bunch of
boys we've got over here and the games coming up," he said in London.
Smith said while team management had been careful in trying
to ensure players still had something in their tank during these last weeks of
their year, it brought out the team first element the team adhered to, even if
there was occasional disappointment when players were told they were being
"When you get rested it sucks, but you know the next
week you're going to be humming and feeling really good, and you can attack
that game and attack that next block and with how the Rugby Championship is
split up you can get two weeks off.
"Two weeks, as you get a bit older, is just like gold
and you can go for another month or whatever is needed," he said.
Smith said the law changes the All Blacks would have to deal
with for the first time on Saturday against the Barbarians should not change
their approach too much.
He couldn't say too much about how the All Blacks would deal
with the scrum feed but the laws about the back of the scrum were also good
with the No.8 being able to grab the ball and get it out of the scrum.
It was frustrating when the ball had been stuck in the
locks' feet and they couldn't grab the ball without being penalised.
"I'm glad that they've cleaned that area up, and with
the ball going in, and also with the step to the side to put it in, it's pretty
impossible for them to be yay-high off the ground and get their leg to hook so
giving us that little bit of adjustment, we'll try and roll it straight. It's
good that the eights can grab it out of the scrum so we can get it into the backs."
Smith said coach Steve Hansen had given the side the
challenge of playing some attractive rugby. They knew opposing sides would
throw everything at them.
"Coming off a loss we just had a pretty hard out review
so we've got some work-ons for this week and probably want to rectify what
happened in Brisbane," he said.
The review wasn't as bad as he thought it might have been,
it was honest and gave them some good things for future games.
"We've got a big game against the Baabaas, there's a
few Kiwi boys trying to come in…I've played these guys at Super Rugby so it's
hard enough but put them on a bigger stage with better players around them
they're going to be dangerous.
Smith said it wouldn't be strange playing Julian Savea in an
"After what I've been seeing lately and how he went in
the weekend – we've had a few chats a few of us and it's like 'jeez the bus is
coming'. He's been playing really well and guys like that are nightmares,
especially for me, I'm 80 clicks [kgs] and he's 100 and something."
Smith said Savea was a 'dream-ender' he had been on the back
end of a couple of times when trying to tackle him.
News that next year's third Bledisloe Cup game would be
played in Japan was hard to think about so far out, Smith said.
However, he had played once before in Tokyo and he enjoyed
the experience, the food and the stadium.
"It's one of those things, a Bledisloe game is always
brilliant and to take it offshore, that's something I saw they used to do quite
a bit before I was in the All Blacks and it always looked like the occasion and
the event was awesome," he said.
"The last time we played there it was a brilliant
atmosphere, warm, a fast field and that's all you can ask for."