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Dublin: 7 °C Thursday 23 January, 2020
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Kaino: There's a nervous edge knowing we let ourselves down in Chicago

The flanker says spirits are high in the All Black camp, even if he is still hurting from what happened two weeks ago.

Kaino in training earlier in the week.
Kaino in training earlier in the week.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Updated at 8.19am

THE ATMOSPHERE INSIDE New Zealand’s team hotel has, to put it mildly, been tense this week. There seems to be something in the air around Castleknock in the build-up to Saturday’s Aviva Stadium showdown.

It comes as little surprise that the All Blacks have arrived focused on avenging the humbling defeat in Chicago less than a fortnight ago but it feels like a storm is brewing.

Perhaps we’re used to a more easy-going set-up in this country but the exchanges between players and media over the last few days have largely been blunt and frosty.

It’s understandable that the visitors are restrained when speaking to the press ahead of an important Test match but more often or not there has been an awkward tension in the room.

Owen Franks offered little or nothing on Monday, barely swapping his blank expression for a monotone answer.

“Is it about showing up this weekend, Owen?” a Kiwi TV reporter asked, hoping for a soundbite from an otherwise uninspiring press conference.

“Yup,” the prop offered. “That,” he continues. “Showing up.”

Jerome Kaino has been the exception, speaking fluently and engaging with members of the media when answering.

Jerome Kaino Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The flanker, widely-regarded as one of the finest in world rugby, says spirits are high in the camp and the All Blacks are looking forward to renewing battle lines with Ireland come Saturday teatime.

“We try and create that edge and try and get the guys bums on the edge of the seats but the coaches and the coaching staff and everyone in the environment try and create that,” he explained.

“No complacency and when you get comfortable you stop working on the little things you need to work on and it starts with us leaders and it filters down throughout the team

“There’s a little bit of a nervous edge to the team given what happened in Chicago but knowing that we let ourselves down, the basics that we usually do well we didn’t do them in Chicago and also giving respect to Ireland. They saw opportunities and they punished us.”

Kaino is expected to shift back to his more familiar position for the return fixture having deputised in the second row during the 40-29 loss at Soldier Field.

With Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick both unavailable and the sudden withdrawal of Luke Romano due to family reasons, Kaino was drafted in as an emergency lock, even though he had operated in that position a couple of times before.

And it was clear that the defeat and his own performance still hurts the 33-year-old.

“No it wasn’t really the record,” he said, when asked whether the 18-game winning run coming to an end hurt most.

New Zealand All Blacks’s Jerome Kaino Kaino in action against Ireland in Chicago. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“We had a reason to play well and Ireland were emotionally quite strong because of the death of [Anthony] Foley and they respected that but we also had a bereavement in our All Black family. What let me down was that I was wearing the jersey that guy [Romano] was meant to wear and I didn’t really play up to that standard and with the respect it deserved.

“I hate to say it, but we don’t want to lose to be able to learn from it and bounce back and get an edge. We always try and create that edge week-in-week-out in this environment, but that loss in Chicago has just added a little bit of spice to the edge that we’ve got this week.

“We always try to create a sort of uncomfortable feeling within the group so we prepare as good as we can. We never want to think that we need to lose to bounce back and get a good performance.”

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Ryan Bailey

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