All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith says they will have to make changes to their defence tomorrow night now that Quade Cooper is starting for Australia.
The Highlanders and Manawatu No 9 contributed in shutting down the Wallabies' attacks last weekend in the 27-19 win in Sydney and it was only Digby Ioane on the wing that posed any real threat.
However, the unpredictable Cooper will be more of an attacking weapon than Berrick Barnes was at first-five last weekend.
“I'll have to organise the defence a lot,” Smith said. “We're aware of their threats on the inside, but Quade is obviously a big threat when he comes back against the grain.
“He has got a few tricks up his sleeve and has got some deception, he's definitely a worry,” Smith said.
“But Berrick is just as good and the way they use those players on the inside channel with the big boys is pretty unique.
“Obviously, we like to play a bit more expansive and go wider, but sometimes if you get breaks up the middle you can really cut teams up.”
Smith barely put a foot wrong last weekend and it was no surprise that the coaches kept him on the field until the 79th minute.
While he will again be going up against Will Genia, the man widely regarded as the best halfback in the world, he doesn't see it as a head-to-head battle against the Wallabies captain.
“The thing about being a halfback is that you don't get one-on-one runs with each other,” he said.
“It is more about how you went around the field and what mark you make on the game.
“Obviously when you come up against someone like that [Genia], they can make something out of nothing and some players can do freakish things, but I'm not trying to be a freak or anything, I'm just trying to do my job right.
“You've got to have your point of difference and I'd say mine is my passing. I'm not trying to run 80 metres but I'd love to if I could.”
The All Blacks' situation at Eden Park this weekend is similar to when they played there the time before last.
That occasion was the World Cup final and although all the buildup to that game was about the All Blacks winning easily, the one-point margin demonstrated that what's expected doesn't always eventuate.
“After last week's win we've got one hand on the [Bledisloe] cup and I'd definitely love to put the cup away,” said Smith.
“But I definitely still think the Aussies have got a good chance, their backs are against the wall and they've got so much fight in them and so much ability.
“We know it's not going to be an easy game so we have to be focused on doing well and hopefully that's enough.”
Meanwhile, Smith says he'll be putting thoughts of the test to one side tonight when he and Aaron Cruden settle down to watch their Manawatu side play Wellington in the NPC.
Smith says it won't just be him tuning in tonight, he's going to make all of the All Blacks watch it. “I like watching the Turbos and I like the way we play, so I'm excited about watching the boys.
“Me and Azza [Cruden] will be there at 6pm watching the boys and trying to get everyone else watching it too.
“I'll barge into the team room and hide the remote!”
- © Fairfax NZ News