Thursday July 01, 2010
By tvnz.co.nz's rugby reporter Chris Matthews
Source: ONE Sport
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is confident that the lineout woes they suffered last year against the World Champion South Africans are a thing of the past.
Last season their set-piece, among other things, was badly exposed against Victor Matfield and co, as they suffered three consecutive defeats in a row.
"I think the set-piece is key and the lineout certainly hindered us last year," McCaw told ONE News.
The problem became so big, so glaring, that the fallout was pronounced.
Isaac Ross, the rookie caller of the 2009 vintage, was spectacularly dropped, with his lack of muscle used as an excuse, Steve Hansen "swapped" coaching resumes and Graham Henry took over with his stepladders in hand.
Now in 2010 the All Blacks have returned to the basics. No longer are we seeing dummy catchers or complicated shimmies - it's just a basic, quick throw to either two or four and the results have been encouraging.
In fact, in the three June Tests, only one lineout has gone amiss as Brad Thorn, Anthony Boric and Tom Donnelley, among others, have received nice, clean ball from Keven Mealamu.
Hansen may have been reinstated as the forwards coach, but the biggest change in the whole operation has been the appointment of Kieran Read as the lineout caller.
Read's influence cannot be underrated here, but McCaw believes that the back-to-basics approach has paid dividends.
"Yeah, we're keeping (the lineout) simple and actually believing in it," McCaw says.
"(Last year) from one week until the next week, everyone started doubting themselves and perhaps that's where it got complicated.
"Whereas (now) you go back to the simple things that work and just making sure you execute it right every time.
"There is going to be the odd one you don't win because that's what happens, but as long as you don't let that hinder the next one and the next one - that's the key.
"Time will tell but I'm pretty sure we've addressed some of those issues and we just have to make sure we get things right once we do it."
That time is drawing nearer with the All Blacks' big first Test of 2010 now less than 10 days away.
Related article :
High ball, lineout focus against Boks