All Blacks' game plans too easy to read

Last updated 05:00 06/12/2012

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All year the All Blacks have been wanting to be involved in the "perfect game" and against England it happened.

OPINION: It was just unfortunate for the All Blacks that it was the opposition who produced this performance.

It's hard to believe that the biggest underachievers in world rugby put together such a classy display, with the result putting to bed the theory that the number of caps a team has is the overriding factor in creating victories. More important is the hunger and enthusiasm, along with a well-structured game plan and big, strong players carrying out their individual roles with physicality and intelligence.

Maybe, just maybe, the current crop of England players and management are the right mix and will be a huge threat on the world stage. The Six Nations will reveal all.

The upside to this result is the realisation that everything is not as rosy as it seemed in the All Blacks' performances. Sure, there have been 12 victories from 14 games, but there has certainly been a mixture of mediocrity through to high quality.

The most glaring shortcoming has been the team falling in to the trap of producing the same game patterns on a regular basis and inviting any opposition to study and dismantle these, to the extent that intercepts were common.

In fact, the attack has become so structured, and easy to read, that only the occasional flash of individual brilliance has seen the penetration required.

The summer period is time to sit down and sort out where the intellectual grunt is going to come from within this group. If the current planning and executing continues, this team could well remain on a plateau, rather than move forward.

I'm certain now there will be the realisation that subtle changes need to be made on a weekly basis and plans to beat certain countries must have a different basis each time. This will at least show a real respect for all opposition teams.

Although Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Conrad Smith and a few other oldies are still the best in their positions by a country mile, next season would be a good time to re-introduce the "rest and rotation" policy that has previously been dealt to by the public and the media.

Let's face it, the only blemish in this policy was that the panel continued with it right up to and including the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Had they halted it 12 months, or even six months out, it would have served its purpose. I guess the 2011 Rugby World Cup reaped the benefits.

2013 is a crucial year in sorting out the new talent and giving them playing exposure if the 2015 Rugby World Cup is the next target.

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Of the starting XV against England on Saturday, maybe at least half of them will not be on board in 2015, assuming the selectors are not to make the same mistakes as were made in 1991 after the 1987 victory.

With that in mind, it will be important the New Zealand Rugby Union does not reappoint the current panel through to 2015, as has been suggested. Wait until another season has been played out and make a judgment based on the subtle improvements and team performance during that period.

It will also give an opportunity to cast a similar eye over the Chiefs trio of Dave Rennie, Tom Coventry and Wayne Smith and just slip them into black tracksuits if required and deserved.

It is tough remaining at the top of such a big tree and there is much to be done, but in the meantime all rugby fans should join together for a big "well done". Not long now and Super Rugby will be back on television!

Ian Snook has coached professionally for the past 25 years in New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, England, Ireland, Japan and Italy.

- Taranaki


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