All Blacks put on notice over attitude adjustment needed ahead of Wales finale

It's not often you hear this from the All Blacks, but the world's best rugby team are demanding an attitude adjustment in the principality this week.

They have been put on notice about sub-par mindsets at Murrayfield last weekend, and given a stern message about what it will take to continue their 64-year dominance of the Welsh at Principality Stadium.

As thoughts inevitably turn to summer breaks, beaches, barbies and beers, the coaching staff are working furiously at keeping those minds from jumping on a plane before the bodies are due to at Heathrow on Sunday. It's a delicate balance.

These are grown men. They know what's what. They can read calendars. Never mind that "end-of-year" has been banished as a tour descriptor, and that workloads have been managed furiously to ensure that there's juice in the tank this very week.

But last weekend may end up being just the injection that this one needed. That was the indication when experienced flanker Sam Cane revealed some tasty tidbits around the fallout from that shaky 22-17 victory over the gallant Scots in Edinburgh.

There have been no fingers pointed, nor names shamed. But the All Blacks have been put on notice around sub-par attitude-levels that very nearly cost them that test.

"There wasn't a heck of a lot of footage shown but there were a lot of discussions around different players' processes in terms of turning up at kickoff ready to rip into it at 10-out-of-10 level," said Cane of the Murrayfield rake-over.

"It was a reminder that every team are playing the games of their lives against us, and we need to prepare to a really high standard. We probably turned up with the attitude a fraction off, and it doesn't take much."

Cane is probably just stating the obvious. As improved as the Scots are, they shouldn't go toe to toe with the All Blacks over 80 minutes unless something is off.

The desire is this week it won't be. That those two ticks in the defeat column don't get a mate. That Warren Gatland doesn't get another career highlight at New Zealand's expense.

"Sometimes you get a feel for it, and sometimes even if you feel it and try to get it back on track, it's often too late," said Cane of the preparation needed to "go out and win the little battles ...  all the small things that make a big difference in the end".

"You've got to build that through the week. It's pretty tough to just turn up and flick a switch."

"Bone deep" is the phrase Hansen likes to use in conjunction with preparation. When the All Blacks go down to their marrow, they are almost unbeatable. When they don't, well ...

Cane admitted he sensed some doubts round one or two of the group last week, but by then it was too late. Now they've moved on, and it's all about that finish to the year they all desire.

To do that they'll have to deal with more line-speed (all about quickness of ruck ball, says Cane) and "one of the great stadiums in world rugby". Given two more front-liners will be absent, there will also be a couple more new faces to transition (possibly Patty Tuipulotu and Seta Tamanivalu).

"We're really keen to finish the season with a bang. It would be awesome to sit in the sheds on Saturday really proud with how we went."

Cane was asked about his head coach's motivation, as a former Wales boss and noted Gatland adversary.

"Steve is one of the most competitive people I know. It doesn't matter who we're playing, he's keen to win. I don't have any inkling from him he's treating it any different. He's driving us to enjoy our last week as a team, to make sure we finish with a bang and, to use one his sayings, we don't want any rocks under our towels for summer."


Photo caption: All Blacks flanker Sam Cane says the Scotland review pointed out some pretty harsh home truths.