Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Football: Hudson walking halls of power to gain an edge for All Whites

Anthony Hudson. Photo / Supplied
Anthony Hudson. Photo / Supplied

All Whites coach Anthony Hudson is tapping into some of the best sporting minds in the country, as he plans New Zealand's challenging year on the world stage in 2017.

With the Confederations Cup in June, followed by the Oceania finals (September) and - hopefully - the inter-continental playoffs with the fifth-placed South American side in November, Hudson is looking for every possible advantage.

He has already held productive meetings with the All Blacks coaches and this week will spend time with the Crusaders. He's also consulted with other top sporting figures, hoping to build the level of expertise around the All Whites.

"You never stop learning," said Hudson. "There are things you can learn from other sports, especially strong teams with great cultures. Everybody is aiming for that winning mentality."

Before the recent Fiji matches Hudson met with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, as well as long-time assistant Wayne Smith, recognised as one of the best thinkers in the sport.

"They've been really helpful," said Hudson. "We have all got similar challenges and they recognise that. Steve was really good, with his ideas about team culture and team identity. I picked up loads of little things from the All Blacks that could help us."

Hudson will also seek to learn some lessons from the franchise that has had the most wins in Super Rugby history. "I'll be meeting [coach] Scott Robertson," said Hudson. "I want to see how they build their team culture and identity, how they drive standards and any other aspects that could relate to what we are trying to do."

Hudson is racing the clock. There's only 62 days until the All Whites will walk out on to Krestovsky Stadium in St Petersburg, to face the host nation in the first game of the Confed-erations Cup in front of 70,000 people. Before that they have matches against Northern Ireland and Belarus, as well as a training camp for Australasian-based players in Auckland in May.

"That will be a good chance to get everyone together," said Hudson, who added that it would double as a selection camp, similar to the one that Ricki Herbert ran before the 2010 World Cup.

Hudson has a long checklist. Each member of his coaching team has been allocated an opponent to study in depth (beginning with Northern Ireland, Belarus and Russia) as the New Zealand camp can't leave anything to chance.

"We have so much to do," said Hudson, as he glances at a checklist with bullet points including 'Style of play', 'Killing games off', 'Adaptability', 'Fittest team' and 'Team culture'.

"I said to the staff - we have to work harder than any other staff in the tournament, just as the price of entry," said Hudson. "But you get out what you put in."

- NZ Herald

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