Rugby: Scrum getting some French polish

French scrum coach Marc Dal Maso instructs the Highlanders at Logan Park yesterday. Lock Tom...
French scrum coach Marc Dal Maso instructs the Highlanders at Logan Park yesterday. Lock Tom Franklin (left) looks on while flanker Shane Christie (foreground) works hard. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
The Highlanders scrum is getting some French flavouring.

French scrum coach Marc Dal Maso has been called into the franchise to have a look at the scrum and try to get some advantage in what is still a key area in the game.

The Highlanders struggled at scrum time last season and their weakness at the set piece was a major handicap in matches against the big sides.

The team has brought in former All Black and Southland prop Clarke Dermody to help the forward play and has now introduced Dal Maso for a three-week period.

Dal Maso has forged a reputation around the world for his knowledge of the scrum and is not slow in letting players know what has to be done.

During an intense scrummaging session at Logan Park yesterday morning, Dal Maso, was on the ground, hitting players, and teaching them the all-important body position.

There was not a scrummaging machine in sight as two sets of packs went at each other with plenty of power.

Dal Maso's methods are somewhat unorthodox at times and he has been known to get up and stand on the scrum to get his point across.

He comes highly recommended.

Former Australia coach and now Japan coach Eddie Jones credits the work of Dal Maso with changing the Japanese approach to scrummaging and helping it make rapid strides.

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph spent part of the off-season in Japan working with Jones and linked with Dal Maso.

Dal Maso (47) does not speak English but is being helped by Southern United football captain Victor De Costa who is acting as interpreter while in Dunedin.

Dal Maso earned 33 caps for France and played at the 1999 World Cup, although he did not play in the French upset victory against the All Blacks in the semifinal.

He played at various French clubs before hanging up his boots more than 10 years ago when he got into coaching.

Dal Maso coached at a couple of minor league French clubs before linking with Jones and Japan a couple of years ago.

He will be with the Highlanders until the end of the month. The side will play its first pre-season game in Timaru on January 24, taking on the Crusaders.

 

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