Argentina 2022 loss a motivating factor for All Blacks
Reflecting on their loss to Argentina in Christchurch last year has been a motivator for the All Blacks ahead of Sunday's (NZT) Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship opener in Mendoza.
First five-eighths Richie Mo'unga said that the 18-25 first Test loss, the first win for Argentina in New Zealand, had provided some lessons for the All Blacks, including the realisation that if they got too one-dimensional, they could pay for it.
"They're a big physical team with good loose forwards who like to get on the ball and who love to jackal.
"Discipline let us down as well and the big difference [in the second Test which the All Blacs won 53-3] was we used our attacking kicks and won our exits a bit better and were able to get penalties in their half which gave us entries into their 22m."
Mo'unga said the combination with fullbacks was still crucial for the All Blacks. It provided them with second pivots and more variety. Beauden Barrett, Will Jordan, Damian McKenzie and Shaun Stevenson all had different qualities but were as strong, if not stronger, than their kickers at first five-eighths.
He relished the communication from those players when they saw space. It allowed him to trust them about whether to kick or pass.
Mo'unga said being in a high-performance setting with rivals for his position like Barrett and McKenzie was something where they wanted to push each other, and they demanded that of each other.
"We wouldn't be doing the team any justice, or each other, if we weren't trying and competing. When you know you've done that, it is out of your hands, and you're happy with whatever decision the coach has made.
"You might have a little sulk if you don't get the jersey and then it's over. Then you focus on what's next, what's best for the team, what does the team need me to do if I am not in the 10 jersey or not in the 23."
Mo'unga said after his first contact with assistant coach Joe Schmidt last year, he was conscious of the detail he brought to the All Blacks' attack.
"With more time to work on the Championship [this year] he has come in with some awesome ideas on how we can bring variation to our game but also how we've got to nail the small things and how we can keep winning the momentum and collisions."
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