All Blacks looking to fix attitude

Sonny Bill Williams is tackled for the All Blacks in their match against Scotland at the weekend....
Sonny Bill Williams is tackled for the All Blacks in their match against Scotland at the weekend. Photo: Getty Images
The All Blacks will take the emphasis off physical preparation this week in Cardiff and park it squarely in their mental approach after they let themselves down in that area against Scotland.

As well as Scotland played and as much as they have to be respected for their performance, the All Blacks know they didn't turn up at Murrayfield, or at least not all of them did, in the right mental state.

They didn't have urgency or desperation when the game kicked off. There was no sense of hunger to get over the gainline and put Scotland on the back foot early.

Instead the All Blacks drifted through the first half, largely passive and lateral in what they did and unable to get their attack game going.

It's possible they may have underestimated the Scots - or at least some of the players may have not taken the threat as seriously as they should.

Captain Kieran Read hinted at that immediately after the game when he said: "I think for us in that first half it wasn't a skill thing. We were just 5% off maybe attitudinally really and we it made it hard for ourselves. We were not winning gainlines, we were not winning the chance to make the Scots go backwards so they had front foot ball and were coming off the line really quick.

"In a test match, if you win those, you generally get the rub of the green. It comes from within. It starts with the individual doesn't it. So we have to look at ourselves and our preparation to see what we can do better."

Whatever the actual problem, the chances of it being repeated in Cardiff should be low.

The feedback from coach Steve Hansen is thought to have typically on point, making it clear that if the All Blacks are unlikely to get away with a slow start two weeks in succession.

The challenge has been laid down for the players to fix up their mental approach and make sure come kick off at the Millennium Stadium, they are, numbers one to 15, ready for what should be an intense and prolonged battle against the Welsh.

"The key was the start," said All Blacks flanker Sam Cane as to what had been identified during the team review as the major problem in Edinburgh.

"There wasn't a heck of a lot of footage shown but there were a lot of discussions about different players' processes in terms of turning up ready at kickoff to be ready to rip into it."

It may well be the All Blacks last game in a long season, but any thought of that providing an excuse, is being kicked hard to touch by the coaches and management.

All those who have toured in the past know that a poor last performance, even if it yields victory, can create a bad vibe throughout the summer for those involved.

Those who are more experienced also know that if too much is made of it being the last week, minds can easily drift and jump too far ahead of where they need to be.

"I am not going to go around and avoid talking about it because it is there," says Cane. "But at the same time I am really keen to finish the season on the right note. It would be awesome to sit in the sheds on Saturday really satisfied and proud with how we went.

"That would make the next couple of weeks, even the next few months, that much more enjoyable.

"So the focus will be abut getting the week right and having as much enjoyment and fun bearing in mind this is the last time this group will be together. If we get that right, the performance should come."

Add a Comment