All Blacks won't make big changes
July 21, 2009
The All Blacks continue their preparations for this week's clash in Bloemfontein © Getty Images
New Zealand assistant coach Wayne Smith says that Graham Henry won't be making sweeping changes for Saturday's Tri-Nations clash with South Africa.
The All Black squad travelled to their training camp in Centurion near Pretoria with no significant injury doubts and while Smith admits they may make some tweaks to the line up, inexperience within the squad means that the coaching team will have to get the balance right.
"Our situation is such that we haven't really got much leeway," he said.
"In the past, when we've had a large group of really experienced players there, we've been able to keep a real edge by swapping players, giving them a break, bringing them back in.
"We really haven't got that situation at the moment. We've got a young group of players that we're trying to bring through. There may be some changes made but there certainly won't be massive changes and they'll be done for a reason."
One area of the team that may require some surgery is the lineout to which Australia did significant damage at Ellis Park. And things won't be any easier this time around with the respected Springbok pair of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha attempting to wreak havoc on New Zealand ball in Bloemfontein.
Hooker Keven Mealamu has been used as an impact substitute thus far but his experience and dynamism could be called upon instead of the wayward Hore. The Auckland tyro was staying coy on his chances of starting the game, however.
"For me, it's just making sure I can make an impact doing either job. It's always team first," he said.
"I'd love to start but my job's off the bench and I'm happy doing that. In those dying minutes it can be just as difficult. Sometimes it can be just as much pressure as there is starting the game."
Second row Isaac Ross was calling the lineout against Australia and he has taken responsibility for the malfunctions. However, he's looking forward to righting the wrongs that affected the side at Eden Park and says that he thrives on the pressure that making the calls brings.
"We just got a little bit frustrated and as I have said, a couple of lineouts didn't go to plan and as a young fellow I had to cool it a little bit" he said.
"With pressure comes expectation and I enjoy the pressure. It brings out the best in people and I enjoy calling the lineouts. If they don't go to plan then that's my fault and I have got no dramas with that."
"With Victor running their ship, he runs a pretty good lineout and I have come up against him with the Bulls in the Super 14 and I presume he will similar but not the same. There are a lot of older heads in the Springboks lineout and it is going to be a difficult challenge but we will be ready."
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