Rugby: All Blacks on verge of clicking

By Daniel Richardson

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said the team's inaccuracy against the Wallabies was partly down to individual errors caused by "over-eagerness". Photo / Getty Images.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said the team's inaccuracy against the Wallabies was partly down to individual errors caused by "over-eagerness". Photo / Getty Images.

Accuracy has been high on the agenda for the All Blacks this week and Argentina could be given a harsh reminder of how good the world champions can be if they click in Wellington tomorrow night.

The All Blacks have been a mixed bag in their opening two outings of the Rugby Championship with fumbling victories over a hapless Australian side but you get the feeling the Men in Black are on the verge of putting it all together.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said the team's inaccuracy against the Wallabies was partly down to individual errors caused by "over-eagerness".

"I think that it's just making sure that you feel you have them on the ropes and you want to finish it straight away whereas sometimes holding on to it for one extra phase can make the difference," he said.

"So it's just about calming down a little bit and making sure you see what's in front of you and make those decisions right. I think we were creating half chances and sometimes you just have to have that patience to make it a full chance.

It does come down to the individuals but sometimes the whole team needs to get that instinct right."

The All Blacks' progress has been stunted this week following the withdrawal of regular pivot Dan Carter but his replacement Aaron Cruden provides another on-field dimension, which will be exciting to watch.

Cruden's combination with halfback Aaron Smith will be critical to New Zealand's progress and the Manawatu team-mates could play at a higher pace than has been shown by Steve Hansen's men already this year.

Hometown boy Julian Savea's inclusion in the starting line-up is a savvy play from Hansen. It's likely the hulking wing will be nervous after a poor performance in his previous outing against Ireland in June, but playing in front of family and friends might take the edge off.

There's a rookie locking duo in the form of Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano, who boast only eight tests between them, but they have promise in bucketloads and a certain steel about the way they play.

One of the themes of the week is Argentina's ability to compete with the All Blacks in the forwards and what sort of influence former New Zealand coach Graham Henry will have on the Pumas given he is now part of their coaching unit.

McCaw, who will line-up in his 109th test tomorrow, said Henry was unlikely to have given the visitors too many trade secrets.

"Well you watch last week's game and you pick up what you want anyway," he said.

"It's always the way, you have an idea about what the opposition will do and the key is that you stop it. That's what we make sure we have to do. You don't change much from week to week. It's the subtle changes that are different and that's what we do all the time.

"But it comes down to getting the set piece right and getting the ball across the advantage line. I've been in teams that know what the other team is going to do and there is nothing you can do to stop it."

- APNZ

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