Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: We still have tricks up our sleeves - Carter

Dan Carter says New Zealand still have one or two tricks up their sleeves. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Dan Carter says New Zealand still have one or two tricks up their sleeves. Photo / Brett Phibbs

South Africa and Australia have shown the world how to beat the All Blacks but Dan Carter says the New Zealanders still have one or two tricks up their sleeves to counter the inevitable defensive onslaught on the way.

High retrievable kicks and rush defence will be the two main strategies for all New Zealand's World Cup opponents after the team's back-to-back defeats in the Tri-Nations.

It's not pretty to watch, but frills don't win World Cups. After playing major pool threat France, the All Blacks could potentially face Argentina, South Africa and Australia in the knockout matches and, although the Springboks and Wallabies have an intimate knowledge of the New Zealand game, the French and South Americans will have been busy taking notes.

In the age of the video analyst, there aren't too many on-field secrets left in top-level rugby.

Carter agrees the All Blacks will have to get used to accepting the ball under extreme pressure, a strategy used most effectively by the Wallabies, who skipped out to a 20-3 lead in Brisbane recently without pausing for breath.

"It's high-pressure rugby where the opposition are at the peak of their powers and are extremely fired up and extremely physical," he said. "There are even similarities to how the South Africans played - they showed that too. We have to learn from those experiences and adapt to get certain things in our favour."

The tactic which seemed to most take the All Blacks by surprise was the defensive alignment in which the Australian wings rushed from the outside in - effectively shutting down the space of the New Zealand midfield who had little answer in the first half.

"There are quite a few different things we can do," Carter said. "If they are rushing up, there's going to be space somewhere so it's a matter of analysing the game and really attacking that space when it presents itself, whether it's in behind that winger out wide or even in close."

The All Blacks have been experimenting with chip kicks and grubbers so they will be options one and two for Carter, who also had calming words for those stressed by the sight of so many missed tackles - particularly on Australia halfback Will Genia, who twice skipped past Keven Mealamu to score a try and set up another for Kurtley Beale.

He advised against panic, adding that not all teams had a Genia playing.

"It's all just sticking to your team systems," Carter said.

"We've been working really hard on our defence and I think in Auckland [30-14 victory] we showed what we are capable of. [Genia] got extremely frustrated in that game. It was slightly different in Brisbane where they were getting a lot better-quality ball. That [breakdown area] is something we need to improve when we come up against them again."

Hopefully that will be in the World Cup final. If so, the All Blacks will have taken a lot out of Australia's vulnerability to the close-quarters skirmishes in the second half.

Aggression and numbers at the breakdown will be key and the return of Jerome Kaino for the big matches will help greatly. Much also rests on the availability of injured fellow loose forward Kieran Read.

- APNZ

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