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'We're pretty p****d off': How Japan Test 'woke' All Blacks up before Welsh demolition

By Finn Morton
Dalton Papali'i holds off Wales' Justin Tipuric during the Autumn International match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Picture date: Saturday November 5, 2022. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

Flanker Dalton Papali’i believes the win over Wales has helped the All Blacks “realise what we’re capable of” after an up and down international season.

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The All Blacks survived a scare last weekend against Japan in Tokyo, but may have silenced some critics for at least another week with a dominant display on Sunday morning (NZT).

Without regular captain Sam Cane, Papali’i was given the chance to start against Wales and did the black jersey justice as the visitors raced out to an early lead.

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Two tries to hooker Codie Taylor helped the men in black take control of the Test with a 17-nil lead inside 20 minutes.

But the real damage came in the second half as the visitors scored four answered tries to silence the Welsh crowd at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

After a difficult year which has included losses to Ireland, South Africa and Argentina, Papali’i said the All Blacks were “p****d off” and motivated every time Wales scored.

“It makes us realise what we’re capable of,” Papalii said after the 32-point win.

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“Japan really woke us up and we knew we had to be accountable for each other and especially on ourselves.

“Going in and putting a performance like that and the way we trained throughout the week, really showed us what we’re capable of.

“We got to just keep repeating that.

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“We’re pretty p****d off at our performance last week against Japan and we went into this week holding boys accountable, but most importantly holding yourself accountable.

“It sort of showed on the field how when they scored we’re sort of p****d off, we wanted to get back down there and put points on.”

With an opportunity to shine in the All Blacks starting side with captain Cane having been ruled out, Papali’i made an almost immediate impact on the Test.

Papali’i played a crucial role in the opening try of the Test, beating two defenders as eh made a 20 metre burst into the Welsh 22.

The 25-year-old was one of New Zealand’s best on the night as well, constantly sniping around the breakdown and getting busy on the defensive side of the ball as well – having made the most tackles of any All Black.

Papali’i shone alongside a new-look backrow trio alongside Shannon Frizell and Ardie Savea, with the latter having been described as the “best loosie in the world.”

“Those two players of their status, for me it’s a privilege going out there and playing with those boys,” he said.

“Having them next to you and going down in a scrum and looking next to you, you know those are your two other loosies and it really lifts you up.

“For me personally I try to bring the energy, but when you have those two boys next to me, looking at them just really fires me up.

“(Savea) is the best loosie in the world… it’s pretty awesome.”

While the team were under immense pressure earlier in this year to turn their form around, the All Blacks are now on a five-Test winning streak.

Papali’i revealed he gets quite nervous before a Test match, and said it’s a “weight off the shoulders” for the players to have won a game like that.

“Before games, other boys are calm but I’m just trying to control my panic mode.

“Having a win like that and going into (the) changerooms and having a beer with the boys, you sit down and your breathing is really slow… it’s one of the best feelings I have after a game like that.”

The All Blacks have two more Test matches to play this year before their end-of-year tour comes to an end.

Next up for the men in black is a trip to Murrayfield to take on Scotland, before a blockbuster against England at Twickenham the week after.

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