Otago Daily Times
Smith vows to sharpen up after harsh selfappraisal of his effort
WELLINGTON: All Black halfback Aaron Smith gave a scathing assessment of his performance in last weekend’s Bledisloe Cup test as New Zealand yesterday continued to pick at the scabs of the 1616 draw with Australia.
Smith has come under fire from some critics but few were as harsh on the 93test halfback as he was on himself, however, especially when he compared his display in Wellington with that of opposite number Nic White.
‘‘My own standard wasn’t up to it,’’ he said after landing in Auckland for Sunday’s second test.
‘‘My passing was erratic, inaccurate and really set us up.
‘‘It gave them shots at
[first fiveeighth] Richie
Mo’unga. It didn’t give our forwards opportunities to run on to the ball . . . things I take pride in. I need to sharpen up.
‘‘Nic White had a field day. He was able to attack our [defence], he set up a couple of tries, he kicked well.
‘‘Having that impact on a
game is something I like to do.
‘‘I just want to always keep pushing myself to another level of my performance and it wasn’t good enough at the weekend.’’
That the Wallabies can expect a backlash on Sunday is a given, especially as the match takes place at Eden Park where the All Blacks have not been beaten for
26 years and last lost to Australia in 1986.
Hooker Dane Coles, who came off the bench in Wellington, said the pack also had plenty to prove.
‘‘When you see clips with their intent and smashing guys at the ruck and us just parking up and having a holiday . . . that’s personal pride stuff,’’ he said.
‘‘The beauty of rugby is we’ve got a chance to fix that and make it right.’’
Meanwhile, White is expecting the All Blacks to try to limit his running game on Sunday.
The 30yearold does not expect to be given an inch to move at Eden Park.
‘‘I imagine they are probably going to chock up that area around the breakdown and limit the nine running so it’s something we’ve got to expect,’’ White said.
‘‘We got a little bit of pay out of that on the weekend so I’m not sure that will be there come Auckland but I will take each breakdown on its merits and it certainly won’t me surprise if they’re going to shoot out of the line and try to take me out of the game.’’
The Australians may start with Jordan Petaia in the centres after his recovery from a hip injury, while Jordan Uelese could get the nod as starting hooker after impressing off the bench.
Veteran Dane HaylettPetty has recovered from a groin strain to challenge Tom Banks for the starting spot at fullback. — Reuters/AAP