Keo.co.za brings you the latest news from New Zealand’s year-end tour.
Carter unconcerned by conversion rate
All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter is backing himself to break his current goalkicking slump this weekend against Wales.
With a success rate of just over 50% on the All Blacks’ European tour, Carter has been well below his usual high standards. But the 26-year-old is not fazed by his dip in form and has been working hard to get things right.
“It’s been a bit scratchy but it’s nothing I’m really worried about,” said Carter. “Obviously it’s disappointing and frustrating that I’m missing the odd kick. You go out there and try and kick them all.
“I will be continuing my routines and my practice sessions as usual. I have been putting in a lot of hard work on the training paddock and I’m a firm believer that if you put the practice in you get the rewards.”
Assistant coach Wayne Smith is also not concerned by Carter’s form in front of the sticks and is backing his man to come good.
“He was kicking really well at our training session and he’s an utter professional so I don’t have any worries,” said Smith.
All Blacks seek to counter Welsh defence
Assistant coach Smith has been in contact with New Zealand domestic coaches Ian Foster and Shane Howarth to get advice on how to counter Warren Gatland’s signature rush defence.
Foster worked alongside Gatland at the Chiefs and Smith feels Howarth’s Auckland side managed to counter the Chiefs’ defence successfully during their undefeated run to the national title last year.
The All Blacks also have some inside information from Stephen Donald, Richard Kahui and Sitiveni Sivivatu who were part of Gatland’s successful Waikato teams before he took up the Wales post.
New Zealand haven’t always coped with the rush defence of the Springboks in the past and Smith is determined to get every bit of information available to him ahead of Saturday’s clash at the Millennium Stadium.
“We always managed to get a lot of line breaks against the Boks but we never managed to finish them off. They had a good scrambling defence in behind,” said Smith. “We have never really been that successful against it.
“So we have put a lot of work in this week. It’s good having players like Stephen Donald and Richard Kahui who have played under Gats and played that system so you get a feel for what might work. But you have to execute that against what’s a pressing sort of defence.”
Smith believes the conversations with Foster and Howarth will prove worthwhile.
“Yeah, they were very good,” said Smith. “As with everything you try to get as much information as you can get. I talked to Fossie in terms of what stresses him when he is coaching that defence and I talked to Howie about how you stress it, how you attack it.
“Wales are slightly different to Waikato … I’m just trying to get as much high quality information as I can.”
Zinzan: Wales have the potential
New Zealand legend Zinzan Brooke believes Wales are the one side in Europe who can end the All Blacks’ Grand Slam aspirations.
Brooke believes the the Six Nations champions have a great coach and the potential to spring a surprise.
“They were unlucky to lose to South Africa two weeks ago and probably should have won the game,” Brooke wrote in his column for BBC Sport.
“This Saturday they have got to be right on their game and need to be a bit more clinical, but they have a chance.
“We know the Welsh can play that open, running rugby, but they need to play themselves into the game first and make sure they have a bit of structure early on. If you are playing catch-up, then you have to play like that, but it all depends on what stage the game is at.”
Brooke said it was important Wales don’t allow the All Blacks to open up a big advantage.
“They [Wales] need to be a little bit sensible and make sure they are within a few points of the All Blacks at half-time to allow their confidence to develop.
“From then on, it could be a moment of brilliance that wins the game, but it will come down to whether Wales really believe they can win the game, or whether they are there to make up the numbers.
“They have to ask questions of the All Blacks, which is easier said than done, but that is exactly what Munster did on Tuesday.”
More to follow …