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All Blacks must improve ´average´ set-piece, says Smith

21 august 2018 10:29

Aaron Smith wants New Zealand to improve upon their set-piece display in the Rugby Championship victory over Australia.

Scrum-half Smith scored the only try of the first half of the Bledisloe Cup opener at ANZ Stadium but the All Blacks went into the break 6-5 behind.

Steve Hansen's side ran riot in the second period, though, as Jack Goodhue, Beauden Barrett and Brodie Retallick all crossed before a quickfire double from Waisake Naholo completed a 38-13 triumph.

Despite a fine counter-attacking performance from the All Blacks, Smith is keen to see the forward pack exert their influence at scums and line-outs when they take on the Wallabies at Eden Park on Saturday.

"We could take a lot of positives from the weekend but there were heaps of learnings and opportunities for us to get better and that's what we're really focusing on after a review," he said.

"We just want to improve our game, get it to a standard where we want to be, but I think you just have to look at our set-piece attack. It was pretty average and we got nothing off that.

"Something we pride ourselves on has always been our set-piece attack but credit to Australia to be able to defend and show different pictures."

Ryan Crotty was forced off 13 minutes into the match in Sydney after a clash of heads with Goodhue, and Ben Smith offered assurances he will be back when he works through the concussion protocols.

"Obviously we are good mates with Ryan and I actually think over the last couple of days he seems not too bad," he said.

"His symptoms weren't that bad so I think you have just got to take it as it comes.

"That's why the protocols are there, so you can follow them. I'm sure he will take that time and he'll be back when he's ready."

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