Rugby: ABs weren't 'ready for war' - Lochore

No more kisses and cuddles. Instead the wise counsel of an All Blacks rugby legend will be ringing in the ears of the New Zealand players ahead of tomorrow's second test against France here.

At the All Blacks' final training run today, coach Graham Henry chanced upon former captain and coach Sir Brian Lochore, who passed on a simple observation of the 27-22 first test loss in Dunedin.

"He said 'you were ready for battle last week but you weren't ready for war'," Henry said.

"That was a pretty good statement from BJ (Lochore). He said the boys just don't understand what is required, a lot of them, until they've experienced it."

The equivalent pre-test press conference last week was a light-hearted affair, where Henry planted a kiss on new captain Mils Muliaina and spoke of a relaxed team mood.

While not exactly sombre today, a more composed Henry said the reality of test rugby had dawned on several less-hardened members of his squad.

"Another week together is always very helpful," he said.

"They've got their feet under the table a bit now and they know what test rugby is all about.

"Hopefully they'll be ready for war tomorrow night."

The experience factor has possibly been overstated by the All Blacks camp.

A New Zealand starting side featuring four changes actually take a healthy tally of 410 combined test caps into the Westpac Stadium match, easily eclipsing the 327 of the tourists.

Of more concern to Henry will be whether his players have learned some serious lessons from last week, where they fell well short of French opponents au fait with the breakdown and maul laws which reward muscular skills not employed in New Zealand for two years.

The All Blacks were also out-scrummaged but perhaps the most disconcerting element of their play was poor tackling, an area where the French were clearly more desperate.

That element has been partly addressed by overhauling the home loose forward trio, including the introduction of Bay of Plenty flanker Tanerau Latimer for his first test start.

The latest man to wear Richie McCaw's No 7 jersey while the injured captain recuperates could provide the glue missing during a hopelessly disjointed performance at Carisbrook.

"He's a pretty experienced young guy really," Henry said, talking up Latimer's influence as the Chiefs reached this year's Super 14 final.

"He's got very good stats at the tackle, he's a very efficient tackler and he turns over a bit of pill.

"So he's got very good pedigree. It's just time playing test match rugby that these guys need to be top players at this level."

France coach Marc Lievremont had done his utmost to keep his players grounded, making three changes to inject fresh legs at the tail end of a long season and to prevent the team from going mentally stale.

While his desire is to play a more attacking style tomorrow, it is unlikely the French will veer far from the hard-nosed driving play and smothering defence that served them so well in Dunedin.

"We are aware that the All Blacks are going to react to the defeat so we'll have to play at least as well as last week," Lievremont said.

"There is more confidence but we have to be careful about a lack of humility.

"Here we are very humble. We don't want to fall into the trap of thinking about success the whole time."

Tomorrow night's forecast is for southerlies and rain, although the temperature may not drop to the arctic conditions of last year's season-opening test against Ireland in Wellington which several All Blacks described as the coldest of their careers.

Add a Comment






Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter