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Finals mentality for the All Blacks

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Knowing the Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship is on the line, the All Blacks are approaching Saturday’s Eden Park Test against Australia with a finals rugby mentality.

In the closest finale possible, the All Blacks and South Africa share the top of the points table, with the New Zealanders slightly ahead on points differential.

 

To claim the Championship, the All Blacks need to win first, preferably with a bonus point, before setting a target the Springboks will need to achieve in their Test against Argentina.

 

Little wonder that assistant All Blacks coach Jason Ryan said comments the Test was a dead rubber were off the mark.

 

“I don’t know where that’s come from. It’s a New Zealand-Australia Test match at Eden Park. There’s a lot on the line, and we’re treating it as a final. We’ve prepared accordingly to expect that.”

 

Surveying the 39-37 win last week between the sides, Ryan said: “We need intensity for a little longer. We had periods where we were on and periods where we were off. It’s making sure we’ve got that consistency in our habits – that is a big one for the pack.

 

“It’s a mix between mindset and skill set execution. You always have periods with different pressure cycles, but we can be better in the area of keeping the pressure on.”

 

 

No.8 Ardie Savea’s return from paternity leave would be a boost in that area. Ryan said, “We get a lot of energy off him, and having that week off will have freshened him up. He’ll be sharp and rearing to go.”

 

Countering the Australia loose forwards will be a challenge, even without the injured Rob Leota.

 

Ryan was impressed with their work rate and athleticism in Melbourne.

 

“I thought [Rob] Valentini was huge for them and Pete Samu as well as a ball-carrier. They’ve got athletes that can give you good variation, and their contact work and leg drive in the carry was good.

 

“There’s good variation around their lineout which is not really a surprise but the breakdown becomes a big area in getting quick ball.”

 

The All Blacks were unsettled when losing captain Sam Cane 22 minutes into the contest, and his replacement Dalton Papali’i was sin-binned soon after arrival. As a result, Ryan felt the New Zealand unit ‘had their moments.’

 

“There were times we had good intensity in that area and times we could have been better.”

 

Blindside flanker Shannon Frizell also needed to get through Thursday training – after a rib injury – to be considered at blindside flanker. If fit, the selectors would then have to consider how to utilise Scott Barrett.

 

Ryan said he regarded Barrett as the best performing All Blacks forward.

 

“He’s been outstanding in every role, and is a huge part of our forward pack. He’s playing some really good rugby, he’s been consistent, and that’s followed on from his Super Rugby season and he’s hit the All Blacks running and been a pivotal part of our forward pack.”

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


International

Marshall primed for Crusaders coaching opportunity

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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

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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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International

Statement on behalf of Dave Rennie

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Following Monday’s announcement Dave Rennie has issued the following statement.

“Firstly, I’d like to thank all of those who have reached out to Steph and I over the past 48 hours or so.

“The support has been immense and much appreciated from the more than 500 messages I’ve received from current and former players, coaches, administrators and friends both here and abroad.

“I’ve loved my time with the team. They’re outstanding young men who are keen to learn and prepared to work hard.

“The staff I worked with during my time with the Wallabies are some of the best in the world and they played a massive role in creating a quality environment and developing the depth of the playing group.

“I’d like to particularly thank those in the Australian Rugby community for their support of the team over the past three years and for all the words of encouragement when we have crossed paths in schools, on the training field or in airports around the country.

“I’m disappointed I won’t be able to see out my contract in the way I agreed to back in 2019 but leave knowing I had the full support of the playing group and the staff.

“I certainly felt we have made massive shifts over the past three years both on and off the field, which is off the back of a hell of a lot of hard work put in by good people.

“I wish Eddie, the staff and the team all the best in what’s a massive year, with the Rugby World Cup less than nine months away.”

Content & Images from – Australia Rugby


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