Kaino: Lions decider like a World Cup final
Jerome Kaino says preparing for the All Blacks' deciding Test against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday feels like getting ready for a World Cup final.
The three-match series is tied at 1-1 heading to Auckland's Eden Park - the venue for New Zealand's opening win - after the Lions roared back into life with a 24-21 victory last time out.
Tries from Taulupe Faletau and Conor Murray proved decisive in Wellington as the tourists took full advantage of Sonny Bill Williams' red card to keep the series alive heading into the final match.
And forward Kaino - who was part of the New Zealand sides that lifted the 2011 and 2015 World Cups - says this weekend's Lions clash is of similar magnitude.
"With it being 1-1, it does have the feeling of a World Cup final, so I am getting excited about the prospect of being able to play," Kaino told a media conference.
"It definitely has that feel. I think the excitement we had at training today backs that up. There has definitely been a bit of edge there [in training], but the guys are excited.
"We know the areas we need to improve on, and we know if we do that, then we will get the result we want."
Williams' red card for a shoulder charge to the head of Anthony Watson proved crucial at Westpac Stadium, but Kaino insists the hosts will not change their approach and must try to impose themselves on the Lions.
"As you saw, both teams were quite keen to get amongst it," he added. "As we saw, discipline is a huge part of the game.
"We are not going to go in there and be cautious about anything. We have to impose ourselves physically like the Lions did, and that's definitely an area we want to improve on.
"We know a lot of things are spoken about in the week, but that's not a reason for us to hold back. We know we can play physically within the laws. We will let the referee interpret things how he sees them and do our job."
Meanwhile, Kaino's fellow forward Sam Whitelock has warned the Lions that the All Blacks' confidence has not been harmed by the second-Test defeat.
"It [the post-match discussion] was very honest, both from players and management. We took some really good learnings out of it," he said.
"We always try to take our learnings from a win or a loss. We shouldn't have to lose to learn. Having that mentality throughout the whole season, whatever the result, is always good.
"I don't think there is any damage to our confidence. We know we have got to worry about ourselves first this week, and it started with a very good review on Monday, and those conversations have carried on."