Wayne Smith: 'All Blacks playing with freedom'
November 18, 2013
Kieran Read was again one of the strongest players for the All Blacks against England scoring a try a setting up another © Getty Images
New Zealand's latest All Blacks play with greater freedom than their predecessors did. That's the view of former All Black, and All Blacks coach, Wayne Smith. He told The Rugby Paper that today's game was 'all about accuracy in terms of catching, passing, and putting players into space'.
"It's a different, refreshing attitude - and it has altered from my playing days for New Zealand. When I played there was a real fear of losing, so we often won ugly, whereas this team [the 2013 All Blacks] plays so hard and fast that it takes it beyond other teams," he said.
Playing that way required footballers in every position.
"In the past props never used to talk about the result, only what happened at the scrums. These days the All Black props don't just want to play in scrums, they want to be part of the result - and they work harder than virtually every player on the pitch to achieve it," Smith said.
'Attack' was a mood that pervaded the team.
"It means that as soon as they see an opportunity to attack, they'll take it from wherever it is on the pitch. The first thing is to get the mindset right, and then the skills. Everyone know you have to get low to clear bodies, but you also have to have the courage, the fitness, and the skill set to play the way they do," Smith said.
There were grounds for England to have optimism ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, he said. There were a lot of good players and England's team from now would be different by crunch time at the World Cup. However, a team like New Zealand had been in that position for years.
It was the unified system in New Zealand that helped coach Steve Hansen avoid the sort of post-World Cup slump that many sides have suffered, England in 2003 being the obvious example.
"One of the reasons we have been able to keep most of our players in New Zealand is because they play more for love than money. There's certainly been a huge drive for the team to prove themselves as world champions. Expectations in New Zealand are so high, and this team is determined to counter the dip between World Cups," he said.
Another factor in the continuing success of the side was the 'coachability' of players which was something attributable to the All Blacks' legacy.
"Other teams have dropped off, but not the All Blacks. They have been smart about bringing in new players to the fold, and not throwing them to the wolves," he said.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September