All Blacks determined to improve

The All Blacks won’t let the loss of hooker Dane Coles stymie their desire to be an improved team in the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney.

The world champions landed in Sydney on Sunday knowing they’d lost the services of Coles, who was ruled out of the Rugby Championship opener against the Wallabies with a head knock.

The 30-year-old must wait event longer to play his 50th Test after suffering the blow in Saturday’s “game of three halves” in Pukekohe.

Concussion symptoms ruled Coles out of the series against the British & Irish Lions, where Crusaders rake Codie Taylor was a stand-out performer.

Taylor will almost certainly start this week, with Nathan Harris again his deputy, while uncapped Hurricanes hooker Ricky Riccitelli has been introduced to the squad as cover.

Hansen says there is minimal disruption to his team, who he says are fully motivated more than a month after drawing the third Test against the Lions in Auckland, which left the series all-square.

“Does coming off a draw put people’s bums to the front of the seat rather than the back of it? Yeah, it does,” Hansen told reporters.

“We’re disappointed with how things went – we wanted more. It will make the Rugby Championship into one with a stronger feeling for us and one that we want to show how good we can play and we probably didn’t do that during the Lions series.”

The Wallabies haven’t held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003 and, given the respective results of trans-Tasman Super Rugby teams this year, are rated firm outsiders this weekend.

Hansen described the Australians as a “talented bunch,” who have the ability to pose problems.

“They’ll be well prepared. They’ve had two or three extra weeks to prepare than what we’ve had. I know they’ve been working hard and that will make them a tough side on Saturday,” he said.

Two squad members, outside backs Nehe Milner-Skudder and David Havili, didn’t cross the Tasman and will re-join the All Blacks in Dunedin next week ahead of the second Test.

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