Back to basics for All Blacks

Tue, 06 Nov 2012 07:59
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The All Blacks believe that they can extend their formidable record in Europe by keeping it simple and playing to their strengths.

The All Blacks believe that they can extend their formidable record in Europe by keeping it simple and playing to their strengths.

The world champions had a 16-Test winning streak halted by a draw with Australia in Brisbane, and coach Steve Hansen is determined to see a vast improvement this month as they eye another European clean sweep.

Although their approach will not change much from the formula that has proved so successful this year, Hansen has targeted greater accuracy as the key in conditions that will favour the forward-based style of the opposition.

He told Fairfax media: "At the moment when we get it right we're causing a few teams a few issues. It's making sure we get it right 100 percent of the time and that's our challenge.

"The game hasn't changed from the day it started.
"You've still got to get quality ball from your set-piece, you've still got to go forward with your backline and in the end you've got to score more points that your opposition.
"How you do that because of subtle law changes is why we call them game trends but you've still got to do the basics well," Hansen explained.

The All Blacks boss admitted that he was left frustrated by the lacklustre performance against Australia, and is intent on seeing his team reach their true potential on this tour.

"If you look back at our last performance we didn't do the basics well. Our set-piece was poor, our back attack was poor, our defence was poor so three key areas we were poor in.

"We need to have a look at ourselves and fix that. We're well and truly capable of doing that," he said.

Hansen expects a huge onsluaght up front as the European teams try and stop his side from playing their high-tempo game which saw them dominate the Rugby Championship.

"They play subtlety different because the environment is different. There is more emphasis on numbers one to nine, where our game there is probably more emphasis right through the whole team and having multi-skilled players who can run with the ball.

"Here the conditions don't allow you to do that. Other than probably Wales, the attitude is more about grinding out a win. That is the style of rugby they are used to and are good at and you can't blame them for that. You play to your strengths," he said.

Despite the fact that the All Blacks have lost just one Test in Europe in the last decade (their 2007 World Cup quarterfinal defeat to France), Hansen made it clear that they will not be taking anything for granted.

"We can't allow complacency or over confidence to get in the way of our performance," he emphasised.