Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: Romano targets lineout improvements

Luke Romano takes part in a training session ahead of Saturday's test against the Wallabies at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images
Luke Romano takes part in a training session ahead of Saturday's test against the Wallabies at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images

What the Aussies would give to quibble over a few untidy lineouts.

As the Wallabies, who looked short of ideas in their defeat in Sydney, search for ways to break their 26-year Eden Park hoodoo against the All Blacks, the home side have been beating themselves up over one or two shonky set pieces.

The All Blacks' lineout was given a thorough examination at training in west Auckland today after some poor service to halfback Aaron Smith at ANZ Stadium, with lock Luke Romano sounding like a grizzled veteran afterwards instead of a two-test rookie.

"Obviously that's an area of the game we're trying to improve," he said. "Getting that top quality ball from the lineout is essential to launch our backs away and unfortunately we weren't able to give Nuggy [Smith] some good ball there so that's an area us locks and lineout jumpers are looking to improve this week."

Coach Steve Hansen bemoaned the fact that the All Blacks won 14 lineouts but could use only six due to poor transfers on Saturday night.

Romano, who partnered fellow Crusader Sam Whitelock in the second row, said the lineout had proven to be effective, it was just the release to Smith which proved problematic.

Regardless, he should be pleased with his night's work in Sydney, despite being replaced by Brodie Retallick after 52 minutes. He used his bulk and ball carrying ability well, plus he impressed on defence. A late developer at 26, Romano has shown tremendous improvement in the Super Rugby competition this season and for the All Blacks after making his test debut against Ireland in Hamilton.

Romano said the major learning he took from Sydney was the importance of accuracy.

"If you do any small thing wrong it gets amplified into a bigger situation; like if you don't place the ball correctly you can be liable to getting the ball turned over. I enjoyed my run out there and hopefully I'll get a chance again this week.

"The speed and physicality was definitely right up there with a very top Super game. I think both sides commented that it wasn't that physical so we're expecting it to take another big step up this week."


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