All Blacks keen to bounce back in Rugby Championship’ – Foster

The All Blacks have put the recent drawn series against the British and Irish Lions behind them and are now fully focused on the Rugby Championship.

The now regular 'game of three halves' with the Counties Manukau and Taranaki sides will give a revamped squad some useful match time ahead of next week's preparation for the Sydney Test.

However, the Super Rugby-winning Crusaders will not be involved in the game at Pukekohe on Friday.

Assistant coach Ian Foster said they needed time to breathe after the efforts associated with winning the Super Rugby final and all the activities that followed it in Christchurch this week.

However, they will be in Auckland with the team. It was important to have them with the group so they were up with the play in moving quickly ahead to their Australian challenge.

Extra players had been brought into the camp to cover for the Crusaders including Kane Hames, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Patrick Tuipulotu and Akira Ioane.

"Primarily we've got to get the whole squad up so they are ready for battle and that's the physical side of it," Foster told the All Blacks' official website.

"But we also want to test our skill set under pressure and regardless of how we play in Sydney, they're still the key things so it's got a lot more value than just a physical hit out.

"We may hold some stuff back about how we play in the way we do things but we don't want to compromise on the quality of what we do [on Friday night] so that will be the message and we really do need to step it up.

"We know we've got to rebound and come in strong in this Championship to make a bit of a statement and the best way to do it is to get some of our skills right tomorrow." 

Foster said tighthead prop Owen Franks had managed his way through June, he had managed his way through the play-offs and for him to continue to play there would need to be a good management plan around him.

"We're really confident with the people we've got that we will get that right but again we'll have a really good assessment of that over the next two or three days and figure a plan out," he said.

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