Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Shaun Johnson: Kiwis lacked variety

Shaun Johnson (L) and the Kiwis couldn't get anything going offensively against Australia. Photo / Getty
Shaun Johnson (L) and the Kiwis couldn't get anything going offensively against Australia. Photo / Getty

Shaun Johnson admits the Kiwis were short on attacking options in their 16-0 loss to Australia, as they struggled to make an impact against a committed Kangaroos outfit.

The New Zealand side produced an impressive defensive display, defying a huge possession and territorial advantage to limit Australian to three tries.

Some of their goal line defence was superb, with fullback Jordan Kahu a particular standout.

But they were toothless on attack. Their strategy was based around a crash and bash approach through the middle, and when that didn't work there wasn't much else.

"We had boys that wanted to run hard but probably at this level you never a little bit more than that," said Johnson. "We had one play maker out there and players doing their best in different positions. You can't take anything away from the effort [but] our ability to put on good shape and ask some questions wasn't really there [on Friday night].

"

The Kiwis never stopped trying but lacked any subtleties; the switches of play, the deception, the offloads - which made them easy targets for a fired up Australian side.

Johnson had a mixed night. He was heavily involved and did his best to organise his side, but his kicking game veered between sweet and sour, and he coughed up a few errors.

"I was a bit disappointed in some areas of my game," said Johnson. "We kept defending and I tried to build pressure with the ball. We got a couple of repeat sets but weren't able to get going at any point.

There was a lot of positives to take away for us and we have spoken about that but there is still that burn in there in my personal game...it wasn't where I wanted to be."

Johnson is still finding his feet after his comeback from injury and had too much on his shoulders last night. He missed the influence and experience of Issac Luke, who can direct play from dummy half, before Johnson takes control at the back end of each set.

And it didn't help that the Kiwis spent much of the game pinned in their own half, thanks to a pinpoint Australian kicking game and relentless defence.

"It was tough for us to get going," admitted Johnson. "We defended well, scrambled really hard but when you are doing that it takes the juice out of you and we couldn't get going in attack. But we fought hard and I don't think it was a step back at any point...we are building and I certainly don't think we did the black jersey any disrespect tonight."

- NZ Herald

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