New Zealand’s Test with Italy in Rome has taken on extra lustre for the All Blacks as they try to bounce back from last weekend’s loss to Ireland.
Prop Wyatt Crockett, who wasn’t in the squad for the 29-40 loss, said it had been tough watching on in Chicago. Everyone in the squad wanted to be on the field and contributing and it was tough seeing the side go through a fair bit of pain.
“It certainly hurts but the beautiful thing is we get to come out this week and hopefully put in a good week’s training and then put a performance in that we are really proud of against Italy,” he told the All Blacks’ official website.
“After a loss, you generally try and learn as much as you can from that loss – what went wrong, where were we lacking, I guess to try and make some adjustments, make some improvements to our game and work on those things during the week and then hopefully that comes out in the game. Hopefully, we’ll see some improvements in the areas we needed to be at the weekend.”
The All Blacks were ‘gutted’ over the loss to Ireland and if they weren’t that would be scary for New Zealand rugby.
“As an All Black, you don’t want to get blase about losing so the mood in the shed after the game was pretty quiet but you have got to move on quickly and you’ve got to start thinking about the next week,” added Crockett.
“You go through that then you wake up in the morning and get back to work. You can’t afford to hang your lip on the ground for too long.”
Italy had been an important side in Crockett’s career. He debuted for the All Blacks against them in Christchurch in 2009 and then met them in Milan in his third Test later that year.
The game in Milan was ‘a tough night at the office’. The scrum hadn’t gone well and he got penalised a few times but he said he had learnt a bit since then.
“There were a lot of scrums that night, it was a tough old night,” he said.
Propping partner Charlie Faumuina said while Rome was like Chicago in that it wasn’t a hotbed of rugby the onus was on the All Blacks making sure they prepared well by ensuring the things they wanted to improve on were at the forefront of their minds on Saturday.
Leaking five tries had been unusual for the All Blacks and Crockett said that would be addressed during the week and it was more about the system than the individual aspects of the tries, that was important.
Crockett said it was great to see hooker Dane Coles get a nomination for the World Rugby Player of the Year award. He had been playing great rugby all year and while joking that Coles probably got a little more kudos than his propping mates he had been ‘on fire’ over the past two seasons and it was awesome to see him nominated.
“When he came into the All Blacks he was ready to go,” said Crockett.
“He had spent a long time trying to get there. He’s obviously got a bit more experience and confidence and stuff like that to play his natural game which you are seeing now.”