Weather holds key to the All Blacks tactics

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 12/06/2012
Ian Foster and Dan Carter
Fairfax NZ
PLAN FOR DAN: All Blacks backs coach Ian Foster may ask first five-eighth Dan Carter to kick more if the weather turns foul in Christchurch on Saturday.

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The All Blacks are keeping a weather eye on the capricious Christchurch climate amid concerns wet, cold conditions could come to Ireland's aid in Saturday's second test at Addington.

Showers, south-westerlies and single-digit temperatures are forecast for most of this week and New Zealand's assistant-coach Ian Foster said the weather could "considerably" affect the game's flow but not the All Blacks' mindset.

"We don't know what to expect this week, there's interesting forecasts around," Foster said yesterday.

"We've got to be prepared for everything at this time of year, a bit more kick-chase perhaps.

"But we'll worry about that later this week and prepare to improve the game we're currently playing."

Foster said the All Blacks would have to be prepared for an arm-wrestle if the weather was as bad as that experienced in Newcastle last week where Australia lost 9-6 to Scotland.

"We're going to have to be [prepared] if the weather's like that. Certainly Ireland will come out firing, if it's wet it's going to turn into a tighter game."

But Foster said nothing would change in terms of approach.

"It's all about attitude and commitment in those conditions and we'll be ready".

The All Blacks claim to have plenty of "work-ons" despite showing no signs of the rustiness often experienced by even the best teams in the first test of the year when they easily overcame the Irish at Eden Park.

Foster said the All Blacks scrum and lineout worked well, allowing the backs to get over the gain-line. "But after a couple of phases we lacked the structure and I think that's to be expected. We limited what we focused on last week and got some good results from it. Now we've got to be better organised to take advantage of situations in open play.

Former Chiefs coach Foster is in charge of the All Blacks' backs and he liked what he saw from his charges – but gave the credit to the pack. "We got plenty of front-foot opportunities and that built confidence in the way we were able to play and our backs got over the gain-line nicely.

"The setpiece accuracy was very good ... hopefully that continues. It's nice to launch off that sort of ball and we learnt a little bit about where space is [last week] and that's what we've got to work on."

Foster acknowledged the Irish were "very effective" at the breakdown where flanker Sean O'Brien was a constant threat. "We had trouble in certain parts of the game at getting rid of their tackler at their first arrival.

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"We need to be better, we're getting a lot of chests on backs which didn't help our cleanout.

"It's kind of nice to have a little list of work-ons from that performance but that's clearly one."

Foster reiterated head coach Steve Hansen's mantra that the second test was all about winning the three-test series after the stunning 42-10 win in the first match at Eden Park in Auckland last Saturday night.

He was cagey about whether the All Blacks would make changes when they announce their starting team on Thursday.

"It's possible but the reality is we want to go out and build some combinations and [learn] from last week."Fairfax NZ

- The Press

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