Mealamu stresses importance of breakdown area

Keven Mealamu rallies All Blacks pack
Keven Mealamu rallies All Blacks pack

Keven Mealamu says that New Zealand "need to do better" in the critical breakdown area as they target a winning tour finale against Wales next Saturday.

The All Blacks have not been beaten by Wales for 61 years and they will start as red-hot favourites to end 2014 with another victory at the Millennium Stadium, where Mealamu made his Test debut in 2002.

Now 35, the 122 times-capped hooker remains an important part of New Zealand coach Steve Hansen's plans, and if Mealamu is involved on Saturday then he knows how key a factor the breakdown could prove.

"Part of the game they do well up here is contest the breakdown," he said.

"As All Black forwards, it is a constant work-on for us, and we have to make sure we keep improving.

"It is a vital part of our game, and if we nail it well it sets our team alight. We need to do better there and we realise that. We will make sure we put in the work this week.

"As an All Black, especially one who has been around a little bit longer, you never know when it is your last Test, and you want to make sure every one is a good one.

"Being able to stay single-minded and focused about that gives you a chance. You cannot look too far ahead, otherwise you get complacent.

"I have always tried to improve, and I have been fortunate to have had good coaches who have given the little details, and players around me who have helped me improve.

"It is an environment you do not want to leave. This is the place I have always wanted to be, and there was never a question of doing anything else - be here, do my job well and make sure we go well on the weekend."

The Rugby Championship title holders have arrived in Cardiff following a runaway win against the United States and far tighter victories over England and Scotland, and another success next weekend would be their 26th in a row at Wales' expense.

"We arrived here really excited at the challenge we have next weekend," Mealamu said.

"I looked around the team in the gym this morning, and the energy was really good. We are excited to be in Cardiff and for the game, and we are looking forward to preparing well. There is a really good feeling in the team.

"Everyone is feeling pretty good, and there is good competition in the team and everyone wants to play on the weekend. No-one wants to be in the stand for this one, and that is driving everyone.

"The (2015) World Cup is an incentive. We have depth in a number of positions and everyone wants to get an opportunity and play well.

"The lucky few who get the opportunity must make sure they do a good job. I made my Test debut in Cardiff, and I have amazing memories from that day."