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Former All Black Ian Jones answers your Super 15 questions

Ask Kamo: Kick it or hold it...the coaches' dilemma

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MAIN MAN: Andrew Hore has turned his fortunes around with the Highlanders. Photo / Getty Images
MAIN MAN: Andrew Hore has turned his fortunes around with the Highlanders. Photo / Getty Images

Kamo, With some of the best attacking players on the planet, why are we kicking the ball away. The Aussies and Boks are the same. I am glad you were not a kicker. Ball in hand is the plan.

Kick it, don't run it; run it, don't kick it. It's a dilemma coaches have had for years, but funnily enough we are seeing after eight rounds less kicking in general play this year than in previous season, apart from last weekend's thriller between the Crusaders and the Stormers, when the teams kicked it a combined 87 times (Crusaders 43, Stormers 44).

But I would have to say, on that occasion Todd Blackadder got his tactics spot on. Territory is all-important in the game and this is because once again some of the indecision and inconsistency at the tackle/ruck area means teams want to clear their half. They also see it as a safer bet to attack with ball in hand from the halfway line rather than counter-attack from deep and risk losing possession.

Kamo, Be honest: What's the dumbest thing you ever saw a teammate do?

James you could get me into serious trouble here so I will restrict it to the playing field, but I once saw Sean Fitzpatrick so focused on the game that he forgot to put on his playing shorts under his warmup track pants and when it was time to strip before the haka, he and the rest of us got a nasty surprise.

Ian, A few weeks ago, league "super coach" Wayne Bennett said the quick tap had been lost from the game of league, as every time a player went to make a quick tap from a penalty the referee would call it back for either not being "on the mark" or the opposing captain would have something to argue to the referee about, which would stop play. I notice the same thing in rugby. I'm wondering whether you think allowing the player to be within a 5 metre radius behind where the penalty or free kick is awarded when they take the tap would be worth looking at. And opposing captains could possibly bring up any queries at the next stoppage of play.

Good question and observation, Steven, because the law makers are always looking at ways to keep the ball in play for longer, therefore increasing the entertainment value.

Currently the kick is allowed to be taken behind the mark within a 1 metre radius but this must be in front of the ref and taken legally, not just tapped on to the knee or foot.

As the refs have a bit on their minds after awarding a penalty and the next stoppage of play maybe some minutes away, I think clarification has to be done on the spot.

So unless the referees make a real effort to change I don't see this area of the game altering any time soon.

Kamo, Who are our three frontline hookers at moment?

Phil, the top of the pile for me is Andrew Hore. The guy got a kick in the guts last year when shown the door at the Hurricanes but has turned things around in the Highlanders with his direct style of play and uncompromising attitude which his teammates have responded to. He is also leading the way in his core roles and is offering the Highlanders tremendous gain line advantage running with ball in hand running plus his game sense acknowledging when to pick and drive.

Mo Schwalger from the Chiefs is next up for his leadership qualities and work over the ball and the third is Keven Mealamu. Regardless of how the Blues are performing, Kevie is a quality player who you can trust to be there when it matters.

Kamo, More guys around the park are becoming more effective at the breakdown - look at how many turnovers Mealamu and Hore are involved in. I reckon this means the traditional opensider could become a thing of the past. Even our first fives are good at the breakdown these days, so why carry a guy in the team who is a breakdown specialist? Should we be selecting ball carriers there, like Adam Thomson?

I think we are almost there, with all New Zealand teams using their No 7s as ball runners. Daniel Braid (8 runs), Matt Todd (6), Tanerau Latimer (7), Karl Lowe (10) and James Haskell (10) are examples from their last games. The position is still an important one to New Zealand rugby and requires a man with speed to pressure defences, vision and anticipation to be by the ball, plus an uncompromising hard edge and work ethic to compete at the breakdown.

- NZ Herald

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