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smoothy

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All Blacks 2022: Musical chairs

From the mind of a truly unqualified couch-coach, I’ve used the small hiatus in international rugby, to ponder aloud what I’ve thought to be quite a unique opportunity for the All Blacks, moving forward into next year and beyond.

Sure, our ever-qualified coach (61-17!) picks an 85kg inside back to run crash-balls off our flyhalf all game, forgets he is a natural secondary playmaker/kicker – and you blame him when it doesn’t work?! 👍

Blues confirm plans for RTS ahead of his first Super Rugby season

Not if the coaches are still hell-bent on looking for another in the Nonu-mould!

Foster & co. appear unable to see the #12 role beyond that of a primary crash-baller – and totally threw away any consideration for David Havili’s skillet when they selected him. I fear RTS may also be a ‘square peg’ that is forced down the ’round hole’ – if he does earn selection.

Prove me wrong Fozzie. Prove me wrong! 😂

Blues confirm plans for RTS ahead of his first Super Rugby season

I sure hope NZR at least got a return tour booked (a-la Ireland), for the drawcard-value they are providing here!

I don’t want to hear our admins turn around LATER, and harp on about ‘global seasons’ or ‘revenue-sharing’ – such incompetent negotiating is no one else’s fault…

England, All Blacks meet in Autumn series

I love the propping strategy of the Boks, in particular. There are more than a few voices that suggest guys like Kitshoff/Marx are ‘better’ and should start – due to their more destructive scrummaging & play-style.
But it appears as though Nyakane, Mbonambi & Malherbe are perfectly suited to their ‘passive’ starting role – which is to absorb & blunt any oppositions starting front-row. They may not be as dominant – but they practice against probably the best front-row each day, so there isn’t any fear.
Then in the second half, say when Moody & Laulala retreat after what appeared to be a satisfying opening spell – the trap springs! And in almost comedic fashion, coach-after-coach keeps sending their second-stringers out against Kitshoff, Marx & Koch in the second half – and wonder why their scrum starts to deteriorate?!

All Blacks 2022: Musical chairs

The Boks definitely appear to have a clarity in their direct plan, JN, and will take confidence from their results, that they are generally always within a score of winning. They also have a lot of growth potential too, as some new/returning guys could add to the solid core.

I guess one needs to consider that, for myself, the ‘uncertainty’ intended with this strategy, is that within the opposition, when presented with multiple moving pieces, showing ‘looks’ that each have their own potential string of options. As mentioned below, developing shared experience, to develop combinations are absolutely crucial to this lineup working.

But the goal is to create and (in time) expand multiple in-game strategies, to suit different situations as they arise. It’s asking a potentially unique group of players, to really consider their skills/attributes (and deficiencies) they each bring, and where it can best be maximised (or minimised) as a whole.

All Blacks 2022: Musical chairs

I believe as he was used as a primary #7, he wasn’t called on too often for the lineout. Admittedly, my lineup isn’t the biggest – although I think the defensive mindset of the chosen loose trio would help offset this, to an extent.

Admittedly, I am a huge Tom Robinson fan-boy – but I think he would be our best answer, if a bigger loosie was required. I am really gutted both Parkinson AND Walker-Leawere have long-term injuries, as they certainly have youth & size on their side!

That leaves the interesting prospect a returning Dominic Bird – who is returning from the French Top 14 – and could bring back some handy size & experience!

All Blacks 2022: Musical chairs

Why would we NOT want to develop someone like Lawes or PSDT – they’re awesome?!

And it’s not just them: Mostert, Woki, Henderson etc. are others showing the value of this modern athlete – pushing the demands, it seems, beyond what our traditional back-rowers can handle!

All Blacks 2022: Musical chairs

See that’s just the thing, Pedro, Papalii is a great example of this unique crop of players, who began pro-life as a specialist #6. He’s actually a big-body, compared to any of our other #7 options (comparable in size to Matera) and is a regular lineout option for the Blues.

If anything, the current fascination with having both Cane & Savea will be the biggest detriment to our lineout, moving forward… Although there are definitely some names you’ve mentioned, who I also look forward to watching grow!

All Blacks 2022: Musical chairs

Don’t forget, even Ben Smith struggled to shine with our game-plan in 2019, and was dropped by the same guy didn’t like Akira – and who also rates Ian Foster as a great coach 😂

Funnily enough, Smith’s best performance before retirement came in the RWC bronze medal – where he was selected on the wing, but roamed the backfield as he saw fit over the course of the game.

Regardless, I am firmly in the view that our coaching/selection strategy is the elephant in the room for this team right now – and every other nation must enjoy watching NZR try to ignore their ‘old boys’ appointment crash & burn!

All Blacks 2022: Musical chairs

Well, we’ve been lacking any coaching innovation for several years, and play with an out-dated & un-balanced game plan that invites pressure from the opponent. That doesn’t cast any of our players in the best light.

And to be clear, I’m not advocating anything resembling Foster’s chopping & changing between games. This concept is about developing fluidity of movement within a single lineup. I should have noted that bedding combinations are still crucial – as they are to any plan.

All Blacks 2022: Musical chairs

A traditional approach, JC, and fair enough – it’s worked through most of history! Although I would challenge that, where you think of this as another example of a modern ‘norm’ – I do actually see this as a special group of players, who have been developed in multiple positions, more than any previous generation.

All Blacks 2022: Musical chairs

And that’s 2/3 of Fozzie’s back-row sorted for the next few years… If you are an aspiring Kiwi loose forward – it’s time to focus on blindside! 😂

All Blacks captain Cane signs new rugby deal

For now, indeed – due to poor fortune with injuries, and the insanity of a coach who doesn’t learn… But IF he finally gets a run of health, and a chance as part of a balanced back-row (instead of covering for Ardie & Akira roaming wide) – I think he will thrive!

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Well no, James Lowe has previously commented a few times, saying it WAS a dream to play for the ABs – one he let go of, and moved past. But I certainly haven’t heard him saying he still wants to play for NZ while representing Ireland?

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Whether he stayed or left – I’ll take Jacobson at #8 😂

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

I don’t deny the talent or performance. But I still think it must be slightly disappointing from NZ Rugby’s perspective, when a current team leaders says he wants to play for another country. I mean, was this comment made right after re-signing for top dollar with NZ Rugby?

Or was he taking a cue from TJ Perenara, and simply hypothesising his options in public before the contract talks began?

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

I’m all for these new rules, and the positive changes for these PI teams moving forward.
However, I REALLY don’t like the comments made by Ardie Savea – in the same year he’s been brought in as a leader/captain of the ABs, and at the same time he was negotiating/signing a new long-term contract with NZ rugby.

Whether intentional or not, he sounds as though he simply does not have the same ‘heart and soul’ commitment to the ABs or New Zealand, that he would for Samoa… And if that is the case, what better time to consider making the shift?

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Foster is ending/re-setting all sorts of records at the moment!

Rugby World: Larkham set for top Super Rugby job after quitting Munster, Foster fires back, Hansen's RWC tip

So Hansen sells us Foster as the supreme solution – and is now moving his chips over to France?!
Thanks for the show of confidence… 😂

Rugby World: Larkham set for top Super Rugby job after quitting Munster, Foster fires back, Hansen's RWC tip

Haha don’t worry about those odd comments – cos they’re a bit off the mark! He was the Manawatu coach for about 6 years. And it was the same again with the chiefs.

'We're trying to bring them home': Everything Rennie said on Euro star strategy, brutal youth cull and Kurtley call

I don’t think it would be a permanent option. But a coach with creativity might see the potential of the odd 10-15 minute ‘cameo’ out wide, while another back-rower enters the fray… It would allow alternative/forward-heavy bench setups – and in the right circumstances, could create great mis-matches. IMO anyway! 😂

Coach’s Corner Issue 29: Do the All Blacks have a soft centre?

Actually he’s actually only ‘apologising’ or acknowledging that he got the 50:22 ruling incorrect; and appears to have zero regrets instructing his staff to mouth off at an official…
Unbelievably, this lot are STILL tone-deaf to the idea that harassing officials, in general, is unacceptable?!

'We stuffed it up': Springboks apologise for waterboy incident

The All Blacks will also know one thing that IS in their hands, is whether they can reduce the sheer number of handling errors/infringements this week! Goes a long way to avoiding stoppages in the first place 👍

‘I've got to put pressure on the referee’: Savea's plan to pull tardy Boks onto line

I have seen a few articles, suggesting it is a more advanced technology than the common GPS measurements today:
https://www.the42.ie/sportable-smart-ball-rugby-5465179-Jun2021/

Data in rugby is about to get a turbo boost – and that’s a good thing!

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