The All Blacks are feeling pressure from all sides to rebound after their shock home defeat to Argentina but are not far away from producing a winning performance, according to embattled captain Sam Cane.
New Zealand lost their first ever home test against the Pumas in Christchurch over the weekend and another defeat to the South Americans in Hamilton this weekend would imperil their Rugby Championship title defence.
"There's that pressure, there's the external pressure and there's the internal pressure that we put on ourselves," Cane said today.
"We're not happy with how we fronted up last week so, (there's) heaps of pressure."
While coach Ian Foster and the All Blacks staff have shouldered most of the blame for the team's struggles, flanker Cane has also been a lightning rod for criticism from disgruntled fans.
Former All Blacks coach-turned-TV pundit John Kirwan said the leadership group were failing the team and called for openside Cane to be dropped and replaced by Dalton Papalii in the back row.
Cane agreed the senior players needed to step up but said the form woes could be reversed with basic improvements in discipline and execution.
"I don't think it was a horrible performance by any means," he said of the 25-18 reversal, the All Blacks' sixth loss in eight tests.
"I don't think we're way off. If we could be a little bit more disciplined in that first half and put them under a lot more pressure, then potentially the game changes from there.
"But we didn't do that and they are a very good side. I think that can be underestimated in this whole thing."
The All Blacks may have reinforcements in the form of former world players of the year, lock Brodie Retallick and flyhalf Beauden Barrett, with both back at training after injuries.
Barrett said he was in good shape a week after sustaining a neck injury that sidelined him for Christchurch.
"I've realised that I’ve got to get a neck like
"A few more shoulder-on tackles, and I’d say I’m just about ready to go."
Meanwhile, Australia are focusing on improving their lineout after winning barely half of their own throws in the 25-17 win over the world champions in Adelaide on Saturday.
Most of the trouble occurring in the first half as hooker Folau Fainga'a's throws repeatedly missed their targets.
While South Africa were unable to make Australia pay in Adelaide, loose forward Jed Holloway said fixing the lineout was a top priority ahead of the re-match against the Springboks in Sydney on Saturday.
"Hugely disappointed in the way out lineout functioned," Holloway said. "We've been working hard on that... We reviewed quite hard and we will be better for that. We'll get a better result and get the backs a better platform to play off."
Despite a record 48-17 hiding by Argentina in San Juan, Australia find themselves in the rare position of being in contention for the Rugby Championship title.
They are level with the leading Pumas on nine points on the table and would have had top spot if South Africa had not cancelled the Wallabies' bonus point with late tries in Adelaide.
The Wallabies have not strung two wins together since a run of five victories last season, though, so are not looking further than Saturday's test at the refurbished Sydney Football Stadium, number eight Rob Valetini said.
"If we look too far ahead, we might not get this week right," he said. "(We're) just trying to build consistency within our game and then the trophies will come."