All Blacks must improve, says Kieran Read

New Zealand number eight insists the competition will get stronger after perfect year

Kieran Read of New Zealand after their two-point win over Irleand at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Kieran Read of New Zealand after their two-point win over Irleand at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

New Zealand must make big improvements to stand any chance of repeating their perfect year next season, according to Kieran Read.

The All Blacks won 14 consecutive matches in their 2013 schedule, but number eight Read thinks similar performance levels will simply not be good enough next year. The reigning world champions became the first professional-era international side to complete a 100 per cent campaign with a last-gasp 24-22 victory over Ireland in Dublin on Sunday.

Read admitted completing that feat will be a lifelong source of pride but, after their summer break, the Crusaders loose forward said the All Blacks will get straight back to work and straight down to forcing further wide-reaching changes.

Unsure where the 2013 vintage sits in All Blacks or even world rugby history, Read said: “People will talk about how good this team is, but our job is to go out and win Test matches. We’ve created a real bond in this squad and we’re right up there with everyone able to do the job.

“You can’t look too far ahead in this game, you’ve got to adapt and change. Play like we did this year next year and it won’t be good enough. Teams are improving all the time, so we’ve got to keep doing that too, that’s one thing we’ve learned over the years.

“We’ll have a great summer off now and enjoy a bit of family time over Christmas. But then we’ve got to come back and push to improve all over again.”

England wrecked New Zealand’s quest for a perfect 2012 at the final hurdle with a 38-21 victory at Twickenham 12 months ago. Read said New Zealand have now been able to put that loss to bed, and can almost forget about perfect records altogether.

“Maybe it lays a ghost to rest, we weren’t really focused on that target though. It’s going to be nice now it’s done, guys will write about it and say perhaps how good we are, and maybe how lucky we were in Dublin. But you’ll look back on it in your lifetime and see it as a pretty proud moment.

“It’s a tough thing to do and that showed by how hard a match it was on Sunday. They got their reward for playing really well at the start of the game, so shutting them out for the rest of the match was a pretty good effort from us.”

Aaron Cruden’s overtime conversion sealed New Zealand’s perfect year and Read said the outhalf’s strong performance indicates the sheer depth of the All Blacks squad, with Dan Carter missing through injury.

Read said: “I think it’s shown all year he can do that. He’s been outstanding for us, he steps up seamlessly and that’s great. Dan will come back stronger I guess next year, but we’ve got someone ready to step up whenever needed and that’s massive.”

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