‘All Blacks don’t mind the pres­sure,’ says Read

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

ALL BLACKS cap­tain Kieran Read says the team do not feel bur­dened by the phe­nom­e­nal level of suc­cess they have en­joyed and, like the en­tire coun­try, they ex­pect noth­ing less than vic­tory in their series against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons.

The All Blacks en­ter to­day’s first test as favourites, hav­ing not lost at Eden Park since 1994, a run of 38 matches. They have also won 46 suc­ces­sive games in New Zealand dat­ing back to a 2009 de­feat to South Africa.

The All Blacks, world cham­pi­ons in 2011 and 2015, took the pace of their game to new lev­els last year and showed in a 78-0 thrash­ing of Samoa last week how dan­ger­ous they are with the ball in hand, run­ning in 12 tries.

“There is al­ways pres­sure on us,” Read said at Eden Park yes­ter­day. “We don’t mind pres­sure.

“We will go out there and ex­pect to win, like ev­ery­one else in New Zealand will ex­pect us to win.

“We love win­ning. That is one (fac­tor) that drives you. But you can’t al­ways be fo­cussed on win­ning.

“You have to fo­cus on get­ting better as a team. This is prob­a­bly a series where yep, win­ning is a high mo­ti­va­tion, but if you fo­cus on the out­come then you’ll slip up ... (and) los­ing would be pretty bad and it’s not some­thing we like.”

How­ever, Read is aware of the threat posed by the vis­i­tors. The Li­ons have im­pressed with some strong per­for­mances in the last 10 days, with a for­ward-ori­ented game that con­trols pos­ses­sion and shuts down the op­po­si­tion with a light­ning fast de­fen­sive line.

Read, like coach Steve Hansen, said the test was likely to be de­cided by win­ning the key bat­tles.

“Most test matches come down to a few mo­ments and the team that wins, es­sen­tially win the key mo­ments,” Read said. “If you look across the board the Li­ons have a team who can do that.

“We have to be phys­i­cal and give our­selves op­por­tu­ni­ties. If we’re given those op­por­tu­ni­ties we have to take them. It all comes down to the sim­ple things done well.”

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