While the All Blacks had their feelings hurt by a washed-up former Wallaby, bulldozing Australian No.8 Isi Naisarani was quietly preparing for the coming onslaught at Eden Park.
Naisarani, who must be one of the few Australian Test players to have tasted victory in their first outing against the world No.1s, said his third Test in Wallaby gold was another level of intensity.
Isi Naisirani was blown away by the intensity of Saturday’s Test.Credit:AAP
"Test rugby is fast and physical and intense but playing against the All Blacks the boys told me it was going to be another level," Naisarani said.
"My first Test was against South Africa and then Argentina, but the game last week was a different one for me because it was so physical. In my first contact when I carried the ball they just came hard," he added.
This week it's Test four and, again, the big Fijian has done his homework. Despite its pretty suburban setting, Eden Park hasn't been a happy place for Australian rugby fans for a very long time. With showers and cold weather forecast, and the All Blacks stinging from defeat, it could be more intimidating than ever.
"I think they’re going to come hard at us. They’re going to fight and they’re going to be physical as well, so we need to match them," he said.
Back home but still feeling the heat of public scrutiny, including headlines screaming "The Great Decline", the All Blacks called in the big guns.
Legendary No.10 Dan Carter dropped in at training on Tuesday, no doubt to give his successors a reassuring pat on the back but also, perhaps, for a reminder of the legacy he and others left them after 112 Tests in the jersey. Carter, Richie McCaw, Conrad Smith, Keven Mealamu, Ma'a Nonu. Back to back World Cups and an unprecedented era of dominance.
Then it was time to do some talking, and to address provocative comments from commentator and former Test centre Rod Kafer.
Kafer, who played 12 Tests, ruffled some Kiwi feathers with his observation on Tuesday that Scott Barrett's illegal shoulder charge on Michael Hooper may have been part of a concerted campaign to target the Wallabies captain.
"This was a deliberate act, attacking a player’s head with a shoulder and elbow in a vulnerable position," he told Fox Sports. "You go into games trying to unsettle the leaders of an opposition team, it’s pretty standard.
"And looking back at the game, it didn’t surprise me to see those two illegal acts on the Wallaby captain — it may well have been part of the tactic going into the game."
Veteran All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock said he found the comments hurtful, while Foster took a shot at Kafer.
"The answer’s no, it wasn’t [a tactic]. Rod’s a very smart man, I’m a little bit surprised he said it," Foster said. "They can say what they like, it doesn’t change the truth.
"I’m sure Rod will sit down one night and have a cup of tea and think to himself that that wasn’t quite the truth after all."
Kafer, when contacted by the Herald, quipped: "Foz should know I don't drink tea."
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