Although they did not achieve their goal of winning that Test series against the Lions, the Crusaders' recent successful campaign in Super Rugby, and that team's healthy representation in All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's squad, makes the world champions favourites to retain their Rugby Championship title.
Hansen opened the news conference by brushing off allegations in the Australian media that scrumhalf Aaron Smith had misled team management over a toilet tryst with a woman previous year.
"I'm also sorry to my teammates, the NZRU and the New Zealand fans".
The woman's partner claims a member of All Black management rang him a few months later asking if they could help.
The Wallabies are once again drawn in Wales' Rugby World Cup pool for 2019, so their match in the Welsh capital on 11 November to kick-off the series will have added spice and significance.
Investigation re-opened: An independent lawyer is now going to investigate the "toilet tryst" incident involving All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith.More news: Sierra Leone mudslides death toll now above 400, United Nations says
"He had said that I saw him at the airport and I asked him to talk in the bathroom about my boyfriend, but I didn't have a boyfriend at that time, that was just something he had made up".
The All Blacks team announcement, which could have concentrated on a reorganized back three and the dropping of veteran flanker Jerome Kaino, instead was overshadowed by Smith and bugging.
SMITH: "I'm alone for couple hours would u come to a park opposite my house?"
The text messages allegedly between Smith and the woman back up claims the pair had been in an ongoing relationship since 2014.
Read said he had known Gard since 2009 and saw him once or twice a year for week-long stints when the All Blacks hired him for security.
"So I've done my bit so that's all I can do now", he said, insisting his legal duties "hasn't had any impact" on his or the All Blacks' preparation for Saturday night's showdown with the Wallabies at ANZ Stadium.More news: Sigourney Weaver's Villain Is Highlighted In Final Trailer For The Defenders
"In what world that's okay for them to go into a commercial gym and discuss my sex life in a negative way, insinuating that I'm some sort of sexual predator, I just thought it was sick".
The All Blacks waited for five days before calling in the police because they had hoped not to get the media involved. We don't know who put it there and we said at the time and that hasn't changed.
It's a stance that has infuriated the New Zealand Rugby Union who have been careful in all of their public comments to not make allegations of blame or insinuate or speculate who might have planted the device.
"I got the feeling they were trying to sweep things under the carpet".
WOMAN: "I feel so bad I want to cry".
"And I think the extra special part for me tomorrow night is seeing these guys unleash what they have been doing over the last four weeks". "She is the real victim", she said.More news: Here is Justin Bieber's New Single "Friends", His 2017 Answer to "Sorry"
"We can't wait to get out there as it is a highly anticipated clash".