Returning All Blacks captain Kieran Read says his side needs to find their rhythm quickly against a hungry Wallabies side in Saturday's opening Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship game in Sydney.
Read, who missed New Zealand's June Test series against France after undergoing spinal surgery in December, made a solid return in the latter stages of Super Rugby but the No.8 will be under scrutiny at ANZ Stadium.
Key lock Brodie Retallick also faces a significant adjustment as he plays Test rugby for the first time in 11 months due to personal reasons and injury.
The duo, with 177 Test caps between them, will need to get into the groove quickly, and Read was confident they – and their teammates – were up to the task.
"Experience does count for a lot in terms of tight situations, so that's what we've got to use to our advantage," Read said on Friday.
"What we can't do is just rest on the likes of me or Brodie coming back in and think it's just going to happen for us.
"We've got to work hard right from the outset across the board and we've got to go out and try and find our rhythm as quickly as we can," he said.
Read was confident after making five appearances for the Crusaders since being cleared to play at the end of June.
"I am 100 per cent in terms of running out and playing the game," he said.
"Getting an injury like I had, a few doubts do float around, but I'm in a good space right now."
Read anticipated another robust breakdown battle with old rivals David Pocock and Michael Hooper.
"Those guys are world class players and we know we have to be right on our game to nullify what their strength is," Read said.
Read said the All Blacks also had to be wary of Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale, but noted they had developed other areas of their game in the 2-1 series loss to Ireland in June.
"They did show a lot of emphasis on working really hard as a forward pack as well as defending really strongly in the breakdown and putting pressure on in the maul," he said.
"We know that they are building a team that's hungry. We respect what they are building towards, it's going to be a hell of a game."
Read was looking forward to coming up against Crusaders teammate Pete Samu, who has been named as loose forward cover on the Wallabies bench.
"He's a Crusader for life, so a good friend, but obviously tomorrow night it will be slightly different," he said.
Australian Associated Press