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All Blacks to focus on game plan in final stages ahead of Hamilton Test



Fixing their play in the last quarter will be the focus for the All Blacks in their second Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship Test against Argentina in Hamilton at the weekend.

On Sunday, All Blacks coach Ian Foster said, after their 18-25 loss in Christchurch, they had to look at their response to teams who wanted to stifle them, especially in the final stages of games.


Research showed that in losses suffered in the last ten years, there was a pattern of wanting to hold onto the ball and run their way out of trouble – something he described as part of the All Blacks’ DNA.


“It’s probably a New Zealand rugby thing and we’ve got to sort that out,” he said.


Because it was an ingrained New Zealand approach, it was harder to change.


“It’s hard when something is a strength, and in the first half, it was a strength.


“We were making them make a lot of tackles, we were starting to get in behind them and create some things, and that was good. It is kind of natural that you want to go there when you are under a bit of pressure in the last part, but you’ve got to balance that with a little more wisdom in how we mix things up.


“If we offer more variety in what we offer then maybe it takes that attacking breakdown out of the equation.”


All was not lost, however. The Championship was still alive, and none of the teams could claim consistency as there had been strong fluctuations in form.


The All Blacks’ destiny was in their own hands with three games to play, which made Hamilton critical to their chances.



“We were pretty dominant early. We got ourselves into a position, particularly in the last 30, where Argentina stayed in the game, they put us under a lot of defensive pressure, and we stuck to an All Black-DNA.


“We tried to play and carry our way through a strong defensive line, and we need to be smarter about how we offer variety around that.


“We’re desperately trying to build some new habits in this team about what we’re doing on the park, and it seems you take a couple of steps forward and then, suddenly, you take one step back.


“That is frustrating when we are trying to build some new stuff there, but we’ve got to keep working on that.”


A final penalty count of 14-12 was high for both teams. The penalties that hurt were often the early ones when they were over-zealous on the off-side line, while in the last quarter, they were mainly at the attacking breakdown where the All Blacks had been frustrated. Foster said they needed to control that with some of their tactical decisions.


“It is reflective that the team is trying really, really hard, but it’s not quite there.


“Often, when you are trying to build something different, it takes a little while, and it’s pretty frustrating. It’s frustrating, I’m sure, for the viewers and the fans, and it’s frustrating with us.


“But we have got faith that some of the things we’re building are paying dividends, but it needs to happen quickly, and we know that.”


The lesson from the two Tests in South Africa was to shorten their focus for the second Test, which was what they had to do now ahead of the Hamilton Test.


“The only way you get consistency is one step at a time.”


The decision to substitute captain and flanker Sam Cane was down to a desire to replace a fetcher with the power of a ball carrier in Akira Ioane.


Foster said Cane was under the spotlight with the losses, but he felt his work in the tackle and around the breakdown had shifted up in the last two games.


He also defended hooker Codie Taylor who he said was working hard, and when the set-piece wasn’t going well in the final quarter, it was easy to point the finger at the hooker.


The decision to replace Samisoni Taukei’aho with props Ethan de Groot and Tyrel Lomax, who had soft tissue injuries, was down to the combination in the respective front rows.


Foster said everyone was hurting – players, coaches, administrators and supporters. He understood some people would be angry but said that was the time for people to get behind the team.


Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


Savea back at the helm of the Hurricanes



All Blacks loose forward Ardie Savea will captain the Hurricanes again for the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season.

Savea, who will have his 11th season in the side, will mark his first appearance in the competition by playing his 120th game.

The Hurricanes’ season opens against the Reds in round one.

Savea said: “I’m looking forward to the season, especially getting out to the communities, when we play in Levin against the Crusaders for our pre-season game and Palmerston North against the Western Force on Sunday, April 2.

“We’ve just moved into our new facility, and there’s something awesome about change; it’s brought in a lot of energy. It’s refreshing to come in and be in a new space alongside other professional teams. Hopefully, being here can help us move forward and prepare well for our games.”

The facility is part of the New Zealand Campus of Innovation and Sport at what was the Central Institute of Technology at Trentham and houses, several Wellington-based teams.

Coach Jason Holland was delighted to be able to call on Savea’s leadership ability again.

“Ardie is a special leader. He’s the sort of guy you want to follow in whatever he does. He’s worked hard at his leadership around all the small details, around how to get the best out of the people around him.

“He’s been good at driving us as a group, players and management, about being well-planned and clear in our roles in what we’re leading.

“Ards has a great relationship with all the boys and cares about them and the team and that shows in the way he leads.”

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby

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Marshall primed for Crusaders coaching opportunity



James Marshall couldn’t escape rugby’s draw after retiring from playing and failed in his promised avoidance of the coaching ranks.

The former Super Rugby title winner with the Hurricanes has fitted into coaching so well that he will spend 2023 as backs coach for the Crusaders in Super Rugby Pacific.

Auckland-born Marshall started his rugby career with Tasman, but when missing a place in the Super Rugby structure, in a team or wider training group, he had a chance as a 20-year-old to play in Italy with Zebre.

It proved a stimulating experience in coping with playing a different style of rugby at a different level.

He returned to New Zealand six months later for another three seasons with Tasman before getting a chance in the Hurricanes’ wider squad. He had spent four years trying to get a place in the Crusaders.

“I could never crack it as a player but I’m here now as a coach,” he said.

“It is surreal to be here now. When I finished rugby, I promised my wife I wouldn’t get into coaching. We had moved around so many times during my career, even when I was playing for the Hurricanes moving to Taranaki every six months.

“We worked it out there were well over 20 houses we lived in throughout my career so when I got to the end of it I did say I wouldn’t be chasing the coaching dream, and I wouldn’t be moving the family around any more.”

However, back in Nelson, he got the chance to work with Andrew Goodman and Shane Christie, which gave him coaching work where he had decided to settle.

“Then a couple of years later,, I get a call from Razor [Scott Robertson] and it really throws a spanner in the works for my wife and when I got the opportunity, it was a no brainer. It’s such a good opportunity for me to learn and see where coaching can now take me.”

He contacted David Havili to see if he felt Marshall could do the job asked of him as backs coach and to see if he would have the backing of the players.

Havili got back in touch to say how much he thought Marshall could add to the environment. He also contacted some of his Hurricanes contacts and admitted being surprised at how supportive they were.

The Crusaders were one of the most successful sides in the sport’s history, and looking from the outside while playing, he had always wondered what went on and how they did it.

“It’s been impressive. It’s a well-run ship. Razor does a great job. Scotty Hansen, the detail he has on the rugby programme. Tamati Ellison, some of his coaching, it’s all world-class.

“It’s been awesome for me as a young coach to witness these guys at work and try and learn as much as I can off them.

“There’s also the players. It’s a pretty impressive squad when you look at it on paper and the chance to work with some world-class athletes and try and teach them as much as I can, but also try and learn from them,” he said.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby

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6 Nations

RTÉ And Virgin Media Confirm Details Of Free-To-Air Six Nations Coverage



RTÉ and Virgin Media Television today announced details of its joint Guinness Six Nations coverage, where the action will be free-to-air for supporters in the Republic of Ireland.

Kicking off on Friday, 3 February, this year’s Six Nations coverage will include all fixtures from Ireland’s Men’s, Women’s and U20 tournaments.

The partnership will see all games equally aired across both broadcasters again this year.

The 2023 Men’s Six Nations will open with Ireland v Wales on Virgin Media One, followed by England v Scotland on RTÉ2. Ireland will then take on current champions France on Saturday, 11 February.

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations will begin on Sunday, 26 March with Wales v Ireland.

Speaking at this morning’s launch at the Aviva Stadium, presenters Jacqui Hurley and Joe Molloy were joined on stage by members of their broadcast teams this year including pundits Rob Kearney, Fiona Hayes (Virgin Media Television), and RTÉ’s Jamie Heaslip and Hannah Tyrrell.

RTÉ also confirmed that Irish international and Munster player Simon Zebo will be joining their punditry team.

Commenting, Head of RTÉ Sport, Declan McBennett said: “With this being a great year for rugby, there is added excitement about this year’s Six Nations which RTÉ is once again bringing to sports fans all over the country free-to-air along with Virgin Media Ireland as part of our historic partnership which we launched last year.

“It’s going to be a huge year for Irish rugby and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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