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All Blacks sound warning

New Zealand’s Israel Dagg (left) tackled by Digby Ioane, of Australia.

New Zealand’s Israel Dagg (left) tackled by Digby Ioane, of Australia.

The All Blacks fired an ominous warning to their rivals with a 22-0 weekend demolition of Australia but coach Steve Hansen said the rampant world champions had not yet even hit top gear.

While Argentina and South Africa, who make up the new Rugby Championship with Australia and New Zealand, battled to a 16-16 draw, the All Blacks celebrated achieving a rare whitewash for the second time this year.

Their victory on Saturday was the first time they had kept Australia scoreless in 50 years and followed a 60-0 defeat of Ireland two months ago.

It also means dominant New Zealand retain the Bledisloe Cup, contested between the two nations, for the 10th consecutive season.

Hansen also hinted at some sympathy for under-fire Wallabies coach Robbie Deans as critics in Australia called for him to be dumped after yet another painful loss to their cross-Tasman rivals.

But the All Blacks boss said while his side had improved from their 27-19 win over Australia the previous week in Sydney, they were still short of their best.

“I think we went up two or three gears from where we were last week,” he said.

“We were probably half an inch away from really putting in a performance that would have made us proud.”

Australian coach Deans was forced to deflect questions about his job security after the defeat extended his miserable record against the All Blacks to 14 defeats in 17 starts.

“They’re a side that’s playing with the confidence of being world champions and I don’t think there’s any side in the world that would have footed it with them on Saturday,” he said.

Deans admitted the latest setback would do nothing to silence his critics, notably former Wallabies coach Alan Jones, who has said Deans is “not up to it” as an international coach.

But the New Zealand-born Deans said his focus was on preparing his side for the remainder of the Rugby Championship and not on his own position.

“We now reset our sights on South Africa and Argentina. It (job security) is the last thing on my mind at the moment.”

New Zealand sit on top of the Rugby Championship standings with eight points after two matches, two points clear of South Africa. Argentina have two points and Australia zero.

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