NZ Herald

Former All Blacks head coach Sir Graham Henry has revealed the tactics he’d employ to combat a resurgent Australian side in their Bledisloe Cup rematch on Sunday.

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Speaking at the Wairarapa Bush Rugby Sports Award function as a special guest, Henry told those in attendance that the All Blacks could learn a lot from Wallabies halfback Nic White and his form around the ruck for the Wallabies.

“I thought White was the best player on the field and he created problems for the New Zealand defence because all our nines pass off the base.

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The Aotearoa Rugby Pod discuss who they have picked for the Healthspan Elite Performance of the Week from the first Bledisloe test between the All Blacks and the Wallabies.

“Aaron Smith is the best in the world at that, he’s so quick at getting the ball away and that’s how our game is played now. Aotearoa Super Rugby, all the nines played that game and we haven’t had a guy that darts, shows his face, stops the defence and pushes guys into gaps around them, and I thought he (White) was fantastic. And he did that in Perth, didn’t he? When we got well stuffed last year.

“It’s easy if the nine passes off the base – I’m sure you all understand – so that he doesn’t show his face, he just passes to the first-receiver and they attack from there, that’s an easy defensive read. But when the nine is running and popping things inside and guys running off him it’s a much harder to control and he was fantastic.”

Henry told the crowd that by focussing on the kind of attacking channels that White worked so effectively in game one, New Zealand could go some ways in combatting what was a highly effective rush-defence employed by Australia.

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“I think we’re doing it (attack) the wrong way,” he said in reference to the All Blacks offensive tactics.

“I think we’ve got to go through the channels on either side of the set-piece and I don’t want to get too technical here, but in the transition zones at the back of the lineout and either side of the scrum.

“I think we’re trying to go wide, and if we can attack through the transitions and then go from there I think we’d be much better off, and that overcomes a rush defence.”

Australia’s strong form was also praised by Henry who believes it’s a positive for the game in this region of the world.

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“I thought the Aussies were pretty unlucky last week to be fair, but isn’t it great for the game? Like they’ve been s**t for years and now they’re competitive and I think that’s great for Australasian rugby and our interest and I think that’ll be good going forward.”

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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