IRANZ Insight: A real time “Rugby Masterclass”

The All Black Wallaby test match was an exhibition of how rugby should be played. It was a fantastic example of two teams moving the ball at every single opportunity, seeking space and weakness in the opposition defence.

Australia are a good team and if they can regroup, even with nothing to play for but pride, they will beat the Boks and the Pumas.

The after-match activity where I was staying, courtesy of BCD Travel, was an informal gathering of former All Blacks and Wallabies, “chewing the fat”.

It was good to see Justin Marshall and George Gregan holding up the bar for the best part of an hour, deep in conversation.

Razor, without his dancing shoes or comb was there with his lovely wife, Mehrts like a butterfly entertaining all and sundry, Jamie Joseph drinking Japanese beer and of course a host of former Wallabies, lamenting the depth of NZ rugby.

I had a cameo with Tim Horan, debating our centre depth and what the combination should be in the midfield with Crotty, Sonny Bill, Lienert-Brown yet to come, let alone Charlie Ngatai.

Profiling players and combinations are a major discussion point at all IRANZ Coaching Courses. If a coach gets this wrong or doesn’t understand the role of each position, selection will remain a major impediment.

I’ll use Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith as example. Ma’a became a major force in the midfield and influenced our view of the style of player needed to play twelve.

All Blacks Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith
Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith were a formidable centre combination for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Telegraph

The truth is Ma’a’s dominance was most effective when Conrad Smith was outside him making the right calls, changing his line and communicating.

When one thinks back to the Walter Little, Frank Bunce or Tim Horan, Jason Little combinations, then going forward I see Leinert-Brown & Jack Goodhue developing the necessary balance and rhythm to be amazing.