The New Zealand scrum-half was speaking after competing in a time trial to promote team sponsor INEOS' Grenadier car

Aaron Smith claims All Blacks showed what they can do in bumpy 2022

Aaron Smith admits the All Blacks navigated a bumpy road in 2022 but insists they have come out of it ready to win the 2023 World Cup.

For years the All Blacks have been rugby’s predominant side, winning back-to-back World Cups in 2011 and 2015. They are simply not used to losing.

However, Ian Foster and his team endured mixed fortunes this year. They lost their first home series in the professional era to Ireland in July, despite winning the first Test convincingly 42-19.

Defeat to South Africa saw the current cop become the first New Zealand team to ever lose three on the bounce at home, shattering their aura of invincibility.

Aaron Smith drives the INEOS Grenadier across a rugby pitch (INEOS)

Argentina then won their first ever game on Kiwi soil but you cannot keep a champion team down for long and the All Blacks responded in style, claiming their eighth Rugby Championship and winning six games in a row before that 25-25 draw with England that rounded off their year.

Smith said: “As a team this year we’ve really shown where we can go. It’s hard as a player to explain what it takes.

“We have to reset, get our bodies refreshed and give our minds a break. There’s an obvious goal as we all know what is at the end of the year but in the past cycles it has gone so quickly.

“Hopefully it’s a last hurrah and I don’t want to have any regrets.”

Foster’s men will be hoping to find their top gear in France for next year’s World Cup, and Smith and three team-mates got a taste of what they could be travelling in when competing in team sponsor INEOS’ Grenadier time trial.

“You don’t need to harvest anything with us. Back and forwards, it’s a good old rivalry. You can tell it turns a switch,” explained Aaron Smith, who partnered up with centre Anton Lienert-Brown against front-rowers Codie Taylor and Ofa Tu’ungafasi.

The biggest competition for All Blacks is often the other New Zealanders trying to take your shirt from you and it was no different at Wasps FC in West London.

Aaron Smith and Anton Lienert-Brown wash the INEOS Grenadier after losing the time trial (INEOS)

In their pairs, the players had to pack the 4×4 full of training kit, strap two tackle bags to the roof before racing through the slalom stage, reversing and parking between the posts before dotting down to score a try.

Smith and Lienert-Brown lost out to their heavyweight counterparts and as a punishment were forced to wash the exterior of the car.

Smith added: “I went to get in the car when we did the challenge and Ofa had moved the seat right forward, so it was leaning too far – lucky I checked the car before!

“There were definitely tricks and stuff happening but it was a great challenge. It was a great experience to drive a pretty flash car and hurl it around on a rugby field which is a bit different.”

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