By WYNNE GRAY in Dunedin
Wallaby coach Eddie Jones has been forced to revamp his side's style for tomorrow's opening Bledisloe Cup test because of English referee Steve Lander.
After being pinged by Irish referee David McHugh at Pretoria, Jones has spent the last week refining his team's technique at the breakdowns, where he fears Lander will have a huge influence on this Carisbrook test.
The new Wallaby coach said there was too much of a distinction between the tackled-ball interpretations of the Northern and Southern Hemisphere officials and his side had to adjust.
Southern Hemisphere referees ruled the tackler first - which allowed the ball-carrier some leeway - whereas their northern counterparts allowed the arriving defenders the advantage at the breakdown.
If the sport was to continue its global push, there had to be some consistency in those rulings, but Jones agreed with his All Black opposite, Wayne Smith, that under the current thinking, defence would win the test.
"I think it is an unfortunate way rugby is going at the moment. We are going back to a defensive style of rugby. We have seen one try in 160 minutes of Tri-Nations because defence is getting an advantage in the game," said Jones.
"If the referee referees the attacking side first at the breakdown, then the other side gets the advantage and that is what has been happening."
It was a problem for the game in general and Jones said there had been a change in emphasis at his side's week in camp in preparation for this test.
If the game was to be more global, then the hemispheres had to be in greater unison on their law interpretations.
"I think what we have found, particularly since the last game, is how the game is now played. It is significantly different from how we thought it was being played, and therefore we have made adjustments."
Jones would not accept his coaching style of continuity had been compromised by the Northern Hemisphere approach, but admitted he had to refine the Wallabies style.
It meant sides were forced to kick more, look for field position and there would be more stoppages.
In a standard game there might be 80-90 stoppages but now it was more like 110-120.
Smith was correct in his summary about defence, but the Wallabies had missed chances to score in Pretoria and likewise the All Blacks in Cape Town.
Jones did not want the Tri-Nations just left to Southern Hemisphere officials but he wanted referees bringing uniform decisions to all matches.
"It is the major issue of world rugby," he said.
"The tackle is the big area of the game - 65 per cent of penalties in a game are usually at the tackle and that is the major part of the game where we need consistent interpretation.
"All the other things you can get by with, little country quirks, but you can't get by with country quirks at the tackle."
As Australian coach, he hoped to have some influence there and he was sure Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill would be pushing the issue hard at the International Rugby Board meetings.
The ball-carrier had to be allowed to play the ball first, and Jones wanted to speak to Lander about some of the illegal work he felt the All Blacks achieved in the breakdown.
He was critical of the way the All Blacks tackled their opposites, then did not release the ball and got to their feet with their hands still on the ball.
"That is a major consideration. The tackler must get on his feet and we hope the referee will have a very close look at that on Saturday."
The Wallabies arrived mid-afternoon yesterday in Dunedin after a three-and-a-half-hour charter flight from Coffs Harbour.
That, and the late arrival, said Jones, were fine by him, certainly much better than the 12-hour journey the Brumbies took from their Canberra base to Dunedin for the Super 12.