All Blacks predict tough tour

New Zealand expect a ferocious post-Lions backlash from the home nations during their Grand Slam tour of Britain and Ireland this autumn. [more]

Lions Australia Tour 2013

New Zealand expect a ferocious post-Lions backlash from the home nations during their Grand Slam tour of Britain and Ireland this autumn.

The All Blacks arrive in Cardiff later this week fresh from defeating the British & Irish Lions and claiming the Tri-Nations title – but coach Wayne Smith refuses to underestimate the challenge that lies ahead.

And there are lessons to be learned from history. In 1983 the All Blacks were humbled on tour having tamed the Lions 4-0 earlier in the year and Smith said: "There is an understanding here that it will be tough.

"Each country will want to knock us over and there they will no doubt be out for revenge.

"I was involved in 1983 when we beat the Lions fairly convincingly – but when we toured at the end of the year we drew with Scotland and lost to England.

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"We found that the individual nations played with a ferocity and patriotism that we didn’t quite expect.

"I know what hard work Sir Clive Woodward put into that aspect with his planning for the Lions, but patriotism is a hard thing to manufacture. It’s in your bones and it’s intangible.

"The Welsh, English, Irish and Scots see this as a great opportunity to beat a good All Blacks team."

Wales and Ireland have been hit particularly hard by injuries following the Lions tour, with Brian O’Driscoll, Simon Easterby, Ryan Jones, Gavin Henson and Gethin Jenkins all set to miss out.

But Smith would not accept that the All Blacks could be given an easy ride to a second Grand Slam, and a repeat of their 1978 feat, by weakened opposition.

"Thinking of the Slam is really dangerous," he said.

"There are some individuals out but there is a big player base there. Ryan Jones made a big impact over here with the Lions but if he is out then (former Wales captain) Colin Charvis can come in.

"We don’t care who is and who isn’t playing – they will be having a crack at us."

New Zealand open their tour against Wales on November 5 before taking on Ireland, England and Scotland on successive weekends.

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