I wonder whether we'll see the All Blacks utilise yet another weapon in their considerable armoury against Argentina this evening - the cross kick.

We saw it used to great effect against Samoa last week and, in the hands of Dan Carter, it's less a cross kick and more a cross pass.

I want to talk about the intricacies of setting up the cross pass, which is such an effective way to shift the ball into space once you've manipulated the defence into a narrow shape.

It's a variation in the All Blacks' gameplan that we hadn't seen much, but Carter recognises it and he's always had that option in his tool box. And, against Samoa, when the All Blacks saw Alesana Tuilagi was defending quite narrowly, they exploited the space that was created.


One cross pass led to a try for George Moala and another two were very close to coming off. That's the effectiveness of option and it's something to watch out for tonight.

The perfect way to set it up, as seen in the diagram, is from a set piece, but it can also be used from phase play. You can only really set it up well from the left-hand side of the field, because it has to take the opposition halfback out of the picture.

He can no longer become a defender, which then creates problems in what I've called the danger zone, where the 10 can run. That area is usually the responsibility of the halfback and the openside flanker but, in this set up, the No9 is absent and the defensive 10 must take charge.

Which is crucial in creating an opportunity for the cross pass, because it narrows the defence to a man-on-man situation. And if the defending team are forced to put their winger in the line to take care of the opposition fullback, the attacking winger is then left alone on the outside.

People might argue the defensive fullback could be defending that player out wide, but he can't afford to because of the chip in behind. If there's a chip in behind, the fullback has to be able to cover that ground.

That's the way to set it up and, from there, it's all about execution. I think most first fives have the ability to complete the cross pass, and I wouldn't be surprised if Australia start using the option more, given who they have in their side.

Israel Folau, with his particular skill set and background, could be such a danger if Australia employ this tactic. His height and his experience in rugby league and Aussie Rules means the Wallabies have a weapon no other side possesses.

You see the cross kick quite a lot in league, moreso in the in-goal area, and in AFL that's what Folau was taught to do - leap and take the ball above his opponent.


With Folau's abilities in the air, it would be a 50-50, if not even more advantageous to the attack. Because the hard thing with defending a kick pass is the defender is usually static or back-tracking when trying to catch the ball, whereas the oncoming player has all the momentum.

And with a player like Waisake Naholo manning the right wing for the All Blacks tonight, Argentina had better watch out.