New Zealand centre Conrad Smith believes New Zealand are putting the foundations in place for their latest tilt at ending their World Cup hoodoo.
The All Blacks retained with the Bledisloe Cup thanks to a 20-10 victory over trans-Tasman rivals Australia in Christchurch yesterday, their 13th Test win in a row, moving them to within a solitary point of a 10th Tri Nations title.
While New Zealand's opening three wins in the competition had been based around a fluid high-tempo attacking game, this success owed much to a tremendous defensive display which saw the Wallabies stymied despite enjoying the greater share of possession at AMI Stadium.
And Wellington three-quarter Smith believes the qualities shown yesterday can stand his side in good stead as they look to end a 24-year wait for a World Cup win on home soil in 2011.
‘If we could keep that going into next year, it's pretty powerful,’ he said.
‘We had to work pretty hard to come away with a good win and lock that cup away is a nice feeling.
‘We felt pretty sound. We were well tested obviously and there were long periods when we were having to tackle and apart from the one try, which was really against the run of play, it
felt like we defended really well.’
Fly-half Dan Carter played a big role in Australia's solitary try as his loose offload saw Kurtley Beale race 70 metres to score, and he acknowledges that Graham Henry's men still have plenty to work on.
‘At international level little mistakes can prove costly, as did my little mistake for seven points down the other end of the field, which is tough so we have to work really hard on cutting those out of the game,’ he said.
And he also admitted to feeling the effects of a tough defensive effort.
‘It's a bit sore on the old body and you know you have gone through a Test match when your body feels like this,’ he said.
‘I don't know what the tackle count was (the All Blacks made 110 in total) but they were definitely running down my channel and it's part of the game I enjoy, it's not too bad.’