Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: Forwards focus on blips

Owen Franks, Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock pack down in training ahead of the third test. Picture / Getty Images.
Owen Franks, Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock pack down in training ahead of the third test. Picture / Getty Images.

Debating scrum decisions with props is asking for a baleful stare or sustained silence.

Listening to their viewpoint is a far safer proposition unless you have been part of the cauliflowered collection.

Occasionally they are left in limbo and All Black loose head prop Tony Woodcock was quick to check referee Nigel Owens' decision late in the second test.

He ruled in favour of the All Blacks, a verdict which earned him the ire of Ireland but got the hosts on a roll towards their defining dropped goal.

"You'd have to ask the ref really but to me it looked a bit like a whip wheel rather than a push straight through but those things can go either way," Woodcock said.

"We hear the whistle in scrums and think, oh my god, but it's only the ref's viewpoint."

Woodcock said the All Blacks were content with their initial scrum work but some player changes and Irish improvement altered the dynamics.

"It was a good eye-opener for us and we know what to expect now," he said.

Ireland had a concerted scrum which pushed the All Blacks around but New Zealand had picked up two free kicks, a penalty and a tighthead.

"It's probably not as bad as people think," Woodcock said.

It was difficult to put it down to anything except the need for a better attitude when fatigue kicked in.

"Every game I come off feeling buggered but l guess you'd be asking a lot of questions if you didn't feel that way.

"You get through a fair bit of work that is high-paced these days.

Ireland played in competitions where the scrum was a massive part of their game as in Christchurch.

"We'll see this week though," he said. "We also pride ourselves on our scrum so we'll see where that goes this week."

Coach Steve Hansen felt his side engaged well but neglected the secondary push.

"We had gone to sleep and as a result we got two or three scrums that were shockers and the team prides themselves on their scrum and they have done a lot of homework on it.

"Sixty-five per cent of your scrum power comes from your back five so if they're not pushing then you are in trouble."

- NZ Herald

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