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'Wasn't Super Rugby, was it?': Scott Robertson on his first Test as All Blacks coach

By Ben Smith
All Black Head Coach Scott Robertson (L) and captain Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks (R) following the International Test Match between New Zealand All Blacks and England at Forsyth Barr Stadium on July 06, 2024 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

A relieved Scott Robertson was elated but grounded after his first All Blacks Test match as head coach as the team squeezed a tight 16-15 win over England in Dunedin.

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The coach revealed many of the players, already well experienced at this level, had told Robertson “that’s Test footy” in the aftermath of a tense win.

He laughed off his reactions on TV as a great way to “get steam off” as the intensity of the game rose in the final stages as the All Blacks just held on when Tupou Vaa’i and Dalton Papali’i won a breakdown penalty.

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“It’s good to be one from one, it could’ve been a bit different,” Robertson said in his post-match comments.

“In the first half we had a lot of opportunities we didn’t take, played some great footy, they hung on and were desperate.

“And then the second half got into an arm wrestle which we just couldn’t quite get out of.

“I was just pleased with the effort, the character, winning a couple key moments. A lot of stuff we can get better at, just pleased with the result and the mental fortitude.”

The All Blacks failed to score a try in the second half, resorting to the kicking game of reserve halfback Finlay Christie to win territory as England controlled the gain line.

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They were able to take the lead through two penalty goals off the boot of Damian McKenzie to take the lead and hold on for a one point win.

“It definitely wasn’t Super Rugby was it? Especially when you get into two or three phases and then kick,” he said.

“Going into air battles, and the work off the ball, how brave you have to be in the air.

“Those little small margins there, you’ve just got to kick those goals. Every point counts. Every opportunity counts, especially when you are inside somebody’s 22.

“Just those little margins were tight.”

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Roberton was exceptionally pleased with the backfield’s ability to diffuse the high balls, with McKenzie, Stephen Perofeta, Jordie and Beauden Barrett all safe as houses under England’s kicks.

“Our high ball work was outstanding. We got first off the ground, won in the air a lot, really pleased with that,” Robertson said.

The decision making around half-time was one disappointment as the All Blacks conceded three points in meaningless fashion.

They continued to attack from deep in their own half with the clock in the red and eventually were caught holding on, gifting three points which left the game tied 10-all heading to the sheds.

However, Robertson said it was put to bed early in the half-time chat with the players already aware of the mistake.

“They came in immediately and said we should have kicked it out,” Robertson said.

“We didn’t even need to tell them, they told us. I think everyone in the stadium thought that. Just go 10-7 and get off the field.”

With the win the All Blacks retained the Hillary Shield with England unable to win the series next week at Eden Park.

On the Eden Park factor, Robertson was measured around the impact the record at the ground will have after being pushed to the brink in Dunedin.

“I think firstly we’ve just got to respect Eden Park and what it’s given us over the years because we’ve prepared well,” he said.

“Tonight was a really clear reminder of what Test footy is but you’ve still got to earn it at Eden Park and we will be focused on it this week and let history speak again.”

 

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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Comments

7 Comments
D
Dave 15 days ago

First test together,expected the rust, always happens, glad to get the win. Definitely showing much promise for things to come. Hoping Eden Park will bring smoothening of a few kinks. Impressed with Perofetas game.

W
Wern 15 days ago

Why do the All blacks play like the Springboks?

A
Alex 15 days ago

Disappointing stuff from ABs and Ben Smith. Article written poorly and he should go to school to learn about syntax and grammar.

B
B.J. Spratt 15 days ago

“Hey Damian, take a couple of weeks off son and practise your “Kicking”

All Blacks were lucky that Marcus Smith missed some easy kicks. Toss of a coin Test Match, between Smith and McKenzie.

N
Neil 16 days ago

Happy that England gave Robertson his first international win.

Seems only fair that we give him his first international defeat next weekend.

J
Jon 16 days ago

Wasn’t that great when Scott came on TV saying that he wasn’t happy with the idea of people telling him thats Test match footy. He want’s more, knows it wasn’t good enough from All BLacks, and is going to demand that players get out of that mindset (can free themselves from being dragged into Englands game) and continue to dominate their opposition no matter what.

Exciting things are around the corner with this team.

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Wonton 3 hours ago
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One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

19 Go to comments
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Nick 4 hours ago
How 'gazelle' Nick Frost thawed the hearts of Wallaby fans at Suncorp

Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

14 Go to comments
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