The All Blacks must be careful not to rest on the laurels of their 15-game winning streak, centre Conrad Smith said of their upcoming clash against the Wallabies in Hong Kong.
Speaking at a media conference in Auckland, Smith said the All Blacks squad was looking better than ever, but there was always a risk of teams becoming complacent when they were on a high.
“If you sit back and try and play the same game it’s pretty easy to get caught up, I mean, you look at South Africa this time last year – they were riding high and I think they were the first to admit they rested on the same tactics and everyone else adjusted.
“We’ve got to think of new ways to always improve our game,” he said.
While the All Blacks beat Australia convincingly at the start of the Tri Nations, the scores became closer in the last two games due in part to the Wallabies familiarising themselves with the AB’s tactics.
“They’ve played pretty smart, they’ve improved on each game and they were aware of where they could improve and they made a lot of changes that have worked well.
“On the other side of it, we probably haven’t adjusted our game too much and as can happen you get a bit complacent with what you’re doing if it’s working well.”
Smith said he had not yet had many opportunities to train with star second five-eight Sonny Bill Williams, but he was looking sharp and in good shape.
“It’s a luxury that the All Blacks have, you can pick from a lot of guys. Right through the field you’ll have a couple of players in each position that will offer a lot to the team.”
Rejoining the squad after long period away with injury and a rip-roaring season with Waikato, first five-eight Stephen Donald said he was thrilled to have made the team, especially seeing he had so little time to impress selectors.
“I knew the clock was ticking and I lay awake dreaming a few nights of how well I could come back and how big a statement I could make.”
Donald said the neutral environment of Hong Kong should make Saturday’s game refreshing and exciting.
After Hong Kong, the All Blacks head to Europe for tests against England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.