OPINION: It would be interesting to sit in on a team talk that the English side might have before their big clash with the All Blacks on Saturday.
Based on recent results, their game methodology and that they have won only six times in their history against the All Blacks, it will possibly be a little subdued and hopeful, rather than optimistic. It would possibly go a little like this.
"So Chris, how do you see it going? Have you and the boys pinpointed any weaknesses we should focus in on?"
"Well, Stuart, that rough-looking coach of theirs has said they are feeling pretty tired after a long year of rugger so we have talked to a few of our mates and they are happy to camp outside their hotel from Wednesday onwards and make sure they don't get too much sleep."
"What an excellent idea, but just be careful. Remember what that chap Murdoch did in Cardiff. They can be very aggressive and it's likely Andrew Hore will be stalking around. We don't want any of your friends getting hurt.
"Has anyone thought about some ideas relating to the game? What about you Tom?"
"We're overdue, Stu, that's for sure. By my reckoning with four wins since 1983 and the last in 2003, I just feel like it's our time. I have been talking to Martin Johnson and he said ‘don't take a backward step'. I think we should base our game philosophy on that."
"Yeah Stu, I have been talking to Sir Clive, and I think he said ‘defence will win it for us'. Well, he said a lot of things which I can't repeat but that was the gist of it. Well, I think it was."
"That's great boys, I can feel it coming together. Don't step back and don't miss any tackles. What about you, Ben?"
"I'm excited Stu. I think it would be a great idea to get the ball to Manu a lot more. In fact get it to him as often as we can so he can test their tackling and defence out wide."
"Hmmm. There's always that chance that we could drop a pass if we're going that wide, and next thing you know that cheating McCaw is on to it and they are likely to score. God knows how he gets out there that quickly, I'm sure he's offside."
"Well then, why don't we bring Manu in to first receiver on a few occasions and see if he can target their 10 on the tackle?"
"For goodness sake, Ben, how will the rest of the boys know what to do if Manu is to move out of position like that. Let's have some sense in these suggestions. Dan, what about smashing their scrum?"
"They aren't too bad Stu. We'll give it a crack though. We should try hitting in early, or perhaps go to ground quickly and complain that they are ‘hinging'. What about tighter jerseys? That will ensure that they keep slipping off the bind. Yeah, I think we can handle our part of the game. Don't be worried about us."
"Joe, how do you see it in the physical exchanges? The tackle zone is a biggie."
"I agree, sir. We have just got to keep belting them at the tackle with plenty of numbers and making sure our ball carrying is direct and hard out. I'd be a bit disappointed if the ball gets too far from the forwards too often."
"Right then, it's obvious. Smash them in the physical stuff, don't miss any tackles, make the scrums a mess, and finally backs, make sure you chase those kicks hard.
"Chaps, this could be our day. Let's hope it's pouring with rain. Tally ho."
- Ian Snook has coached professionally for the past 25 years in New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, England, Ireland, Japan and Italy.
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