Dane Coles has made the ultimate Test rugby concession, believing the All Blacks were guilty of taking the Wallabies for granted ahead of the stunning Bledisloe Cup upset in Perth.
Experienced hooker Coles said a brutal team honesty session in the wake of the 47-26 loss exposed a lack of intensity and physicality compared to Australia, who haven’t been so dominant in a trans-Tasman Test for years.
A 17-year Bledisloe Cup reign and New Zealand’s ownership of Super Rugby titles for the past five seasons had seemingly seeped into the players’ psyche.
Coles said they had vowed there would be no repeat in the return match at Eden Park, where thoughts of the World Cup would disappear completely as they set about retaining Lord Bledisloe’s silverware.
“It could have been that we took it a bit for granted, if we’re being honest. We spoke about that,” Coles told journalists on Monday.
“As an All Black, that’s pretty tough to take but we’re lucky enough we get another opportunity to prove to everyone in New Zealand how much this means to us.
“The best way to describe (the review) was just raw and honest. A lot of it was about our attitude, which was the hurtful thing.
“They brought a real hunger and they’re pretty desperate to get the Bledisloe Cup. We need to embrace and find what it means to be an All Black.”
New Zealand are in limbo about the availability this week of red-carded lock Scott Barrett.
A Foul Play Review Committee hearing was scheduled for Sunday night but had adjourned as further evidence was sought related to the incident when Barrett’s shoulder made contact with the head of Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper.
One player definitely ruled out this week is outside centre Jack Goodhue, with a hamstring strain.
Sonny Bill Williams is poised to return to the midfield after missing the trip to Perth to squeeze in two provincial matches, having barely played in 2019.
Williams, fighting for World Cup selection, looks set to start alongside Anton Lienert-Brown, who would shift out one spot to the No 13 jersey.
It's becoming increasingly common for players past and present, coaches and sports writers to remark on the diminishing humility of the All Black brand. That this generation lacks the mature heads to replace the legends of yesteryear. I think there is some truth to that belief .