All Blacks focusing on this weekend

Braydon Ennor takes the ball through a gap during All Blacks training this week. Photo: Getty Images
Braydon Ennor takes the ball through a gap during All Blacks training this week. Photo: Getty Images
The All Blacks are taking their medicine as far as Scott Barrett's suspension is concerned.

That extends to the unsavory breakdown activities of the Wallabies last weekend as they eye easily the most important test of their year so far: the battle for the retention of the Bledisloe Cup.

They've copped Barrett's three-week ban for the shoulder charge on Michael Hooper during the 47-26 defeat in Perth without complaint, an unsurprising approach given Barrett will effectively miss only Saturday's return test at Eden Park.

Barrett will serve the other two weeks of his ban by missing two rounds of Taranaki's Mitre 10 Cup campaign.

Whether he would have played in those matches or not is a moot point: he will be available for the warm-up test against Tonga in Hamilton on September 7 and, fitness permitting, for the All Blacks' first game of the World Cup against the Springboks a fortnight later.

The All Blacks accept also that they were physically dominated around the Optus Stadium pitch, a state of affairs that cannot be repeated. And while there will be private discomfort – disbelief even – at the illegal and dangerous neck rolls undertaken by the Wallabies as revealed by the New Zealand Herald, there will be a sense that discretion is the way forward here too, although it was hinted at today.

There are other matters to concentrate on, including a new locking partner for Sam Whitelock – Patrick Tuipulotu or Jackson Hemopo – and a new starting midfield; possibly Ngani Laumape and Anton Lienert-Brown, with Sonny Bill Williams on the bench.

"I'm just focusing on this week," Foster said when asked about the neck rolls. "There's no point in us highlighting anything else - we've been found guilty of something and we've just got to take our medicine on that. It's something we don't like and we've got to look at what we can control.

"There are some things we've got to do better and I'm sure there are other teams around the world that are looking at things they've done and are probably preparing the same and realised they've dodged a few bullets."

The All Blacks can't dodge the requirement to front up against the Wallabies after their pack delivered tepid performances in Western Australia and before that against the Pumas and Boks. The key will be in delivering a ruthless approach without going too far. If they can't some big questions will be raised about their World Cup chances.

"It's one of the beauties of rugby – it's a tough, physical game, but there are boundaries," Foster said. "We don't want anyone to cross that line. We lost the physical battle against Australia so forget about all the other things we're talking about here and who might have done what - we lost the physical battle and we have to be better. But that doesn't mean you just be physical at all costs."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika expressed sympathy for Barrett in Perth, an attitude reflected by England coach Eddie Jones a day later when he called the red card "ridiculous".

It probably stemmed from a feeling of "there but for the grace of God go I", and Foster was clear on what he wanted from referee Jaco Peyper and the other three officials at Eden Park.

"They've just got to do their job. We've said all along, it's a tough job for them to do and there are a whole lot of dynamics at play. Just the consistency and doing the best they can and at the moment, that's all you can ask for."

Broadcaster and former Wallaby Rod Kafer's assertion that Hooper was deliberately targeted also received short shrift.

"People can say whatever they like," Foster said. "It doesn't change the truth which is we didn't. I'm sure Rod will sit down one night and have a cup of tea and think that maybe wasn't the truth after all."

Lock Sam Whitelock said: "That's his opinion – but I've never been involved in talking about or setting up anything like that. Obviously [I am] a little bit hurt hearing someone say that but that's his opinion and he's entitled to it."

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