(Reuters) – New Zealand captain Sam Keane said on Wednesday he had no plans to downplay the United States Eagles when the two teams meet in a test match next week in Washington.
The October 23 clash, designed to increase interest in the sport among Americans, marks the start of a five-week tour for the All Blacks with Wales, Italy, Ireland and France as other opponents.
Keane said New Zealand, which has not played in the United States since 2016, is determined to show why they are one of the most dominant teams in global sport.
“One of the things about playing with the All Blacks is that you have to play every week,” Kane told reporters in a video conference.
“There are expectations from ourselves and from the public, and the guy in the black shirt demands a performance every week because he has a rich history of doing well.”
The All Blacks’ 10 win streak in their last match ended when they lost to South Africa in the last match of the Rugby Championship.
Keane said the loss made the three-times champions more determined to stay focused ahead of the Eagles.
“Once you let your mind drift elsewhere, you won’t be doing the work required on the weekends,” Kane said.
“I know the team has had a week off, there will be three weeks between matches and finally we come from the loss to South Africa so there will be a lot of motivation to go out and play really well.”
United States captain Bryce Campbell said the All Blacks play with unparalleled intensity and speed.
“As a team, we just want to do our best and there’s no better chance of doing that than facing some of the best players in the world and, frankly, one of the best teams in the world,” Campbell said.
“We’re really excited to make our fans proud, and what you see on the scoreboard is one thing, but we want to deliver a performance we can be proud of and help develop the game.”
The home test for the Washington national football team is considered the 1874 Cup, which marks the first organized rugby account to be played in the United States.
(Additional reporting by Frank Bing in Toronto; Editing by Ed Osmond
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