WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand are to wear special jerseys in their Rugby Championship clash against Australia in Dunedin on Saturday to honour All Blacks great Colin Meads, captain Kieran Read said on Friday.
Meads died last Sunday aged 81 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Lock Sam Whitelock has already said he would donate his number five jersey from the match that doubles as a Bledisloe Cup game to the Meads family and Read said the team had thought of what else they could do to honour his legacy.
“We’ve certainly touched on him throughout the week,” Read told reporters in Dunedin of the memory of Meads. “We’re paying a great tribute to him on our jersey tomorrow night so the guys will certainly treasure that.
“It won’t necessarily win us the test match, we have to do that ourselves,” he added, without giving any further details on how the jersey will look.
The All Blacks won the first game of the southern hemisphere competition 54-34 in Sydney last week to put them within sight of retaining the symbol of trans-Tasman rivalry for a 15th successive season.
They manner in which they won the game — racing to a 54-6 lead in 48 minutes before conceding four unanswered tries — has given both sides cause for optimism ahead of the second match and Read said he expected a backlash from the Wallabies.
“You just have to look at the footage of the last 20 minutes of the game last week. We know how dangerous they can be,” Read said.
“We slightly took our foot off the throat and if we’re not there mentally, they’re a team who can do that. They’re dangerous, they’re hungry, they’ve certainly got a point to prove.”
Read, however, added his side also had a point to prove after coach Steve Hansen called the second half in Sydney some of the ugliest rugby he had seen from his team, with pundits also questioning the ineffectual impact of the replacements.
“We weren’t happy with the last 30 minutes of last week. That was probably a great kick in the guts for us,” Read said.
“The key from our point of view is to start again, to make sure we earn the right to do those little things that came off...
“It’s really simple stuff from our point of view — it’s looking after the breakdown, making sure our ball carries are really strong. That allows us to get quick ball.
“It’s the same for us every week but especially this week.
“A big thing this week that we’re playing for as well... with Colin and obviously the Bledisloe Cup is treasured from our point of view.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O'Brien