All Blacks work on misfiring line-out for Wallabies

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:24

RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP: The All Blacks identified their line-out as a weak point against the British and Irish Lions and plan a big fix against the Wallabies, lock Brodie Retallick said Friday.

The usually rock-solid set piece was disrupted by the Lions in last month's drawn series, and Retallick said the Kiwi pack was determined to find a cure in Saturday's Rugby Championship opener in Sydney.

"I think we had our worst series in terms of line-outs that we've had in a number of years, so that's obviously something that we've looked at this week," Retallick told reporters.

"There was a little bit of communication breakdown (against the Lions).

"We just didn't know our roles, so it's been a huge focus of getting together and getting back to the standard we know we're capable of, and our timing.

"As a forward pack, we've got high expectations of ourselves to get the line-out right. It's certainly an area that's highly contested these days, so we're always trying to put pressure on the opposition."

Retallick, who forms one of rugby's most feared locking partnerships with Sam Whitelock, expects a tough battle with the Australian jumpers Adam Coleman and Rory Arnold.

"We have got some pretty tall timber and some athletes there, but in saying that the Australians have come a long way," he said.

The 64-cap Retallick said he was respectful of Coleman, who has emerged as the Wallabies' line-out leader in the past 12 months.

"In the line-out, and his ball-carrying, he's very physical, he runs some great lines," he said.

"So I've got huge respect for Adam as a lock and as a forward, and I think over the last couple of seasons he's come a long way."

While strong favourites to retain the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup for a 15th straight year, the All Blacks are wary of an ambush in Sydney.

The Wallabies have only won three of their past 29 Tests against New Zealand, and Australian sides performed poorly in this year's Super Rugby competition.

But All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the Wallabies command respect.

"They've got a lot of talent and they've had a great preparation," Hansen said.

"While [Super Rugby] franchise fans weren't probably over-excited about the fact that they got knocked out early and would rather have seen them play right through to the final and have less preparation time, those two things make them a dangerous beast.

"The third thing that makes the really dangerous is their desire to try to help Australian rugby and at the moment it has a bit of a cloud over it and they haven't won the Bledisloe in a long time.

"They're pretty hungry for it so, as a team, we have to be hungrier than them."

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 29 September 2017
Sharks v Golden Lions 17h00 Durban
Worcester Warriors v Saracens 18h35 Sixways
Newcastle Falcons v London Irish 18h35 Kingston Park
Sale Sharks v Gloucester 19h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Leinster v Edinburgh 19h35 RDS Arena
Glasgow Warriors v Treviso 19h35 Scotstoun Stadium
Scarlets v Connacht 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sat, 30 September 2017
Griquas v Free State Cheetahs 12h00 Kimberley
Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs 13h00 Welford Road
Munster v Cardiff Blues 13h30 Thomond Park
Cheetahs v Ospreys 14h00 Bloemfontein
Northampton Saints v Harlequins 14h00 Franklin's Gardens
Wasps v Bath 14h00 Ricoh Arena
Zebre v Ulster 14h35 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
South Africa v Australia 15h05 Bloemfontein
Dragons v Kings 18h35 Rodney Parade
Sun, 01 October 2017
Argentina v New Zealand 22h30 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Blue Bulls v Western Province 12h30 Loftus Versfeld
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 19
South Africa 4 2 1 1 11
Australia 4 1 1 2 8
Argentina 4 0 0 4 0