All Blacks coach Ian Foster has asked for his side to implement a ‘smile and walk away’ approach to dealing with opposition jesting.
In their two most recent tests, back-to-back losses against Australia and Argentina, the All Blacks were let down badly by their discipline. They gave away 26 penalties between the two games combined, with a number of those being avoidable.
Particularly in the game against Argentina, the All Blacks committed a number of penalties for reacting to their opposition.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB‘s Martin Devlin, Foster said while the side had been working on their physicality, it wasn’t smart to be drawn in by niggling opposition.
“When we attempted to get stuck into it, we were getting penalised,” Foster said. “Let’s face it, an opposition player tapping you on the head to provoke you is not really niggle, is it? That’s just a tactic from them; just smile and walk away.
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“The players are getting frustrated with some of the actions people are getting away with, so now we’ve gone back to the bad old days where the only player being seen by referees is the retaliator and I’m not a big fan of that because the people who are doing the initial stuff are getting away with it.
“Quite frankly we’ve just got to get better at dealing with that. It’s not smart to retaliate.”
While a lot has been made of Argentina’s physical and at times confrontational style of play, Foster made a point of noting they offered much more than that on the field.
“They’re a very, very good rugby team. They’ve got some players that we as a country don’t know a lot about, but they’re proving to be an outstanding, well-coached rugby team that is very disciplined defensively, very aggressive, and [the draw with the Wallabies] showed it wasn’t a one-hit wonder.”
After beating the All Blacks for the first time in 30 attempts a week ago, Argentina played out a tryless 15-15 draw against the Wallabies in Newcastle on Saturday night.
With just 37 per cent of possession and 30 per cent of the game played outside of their own half, the Pumas held strong and took their opportunities for points when they were available – for the second week in a row first five-eighth Nicolas Sanchez scored all their points.
The Pumas and All Blacks meet against next weekend, a match the All Blacks must win to have a chance to winning the Tri Nations.
“It couldn’t be better scripted for us when we’ve got a team that’s hurt us, we respect them and we know that we’ve got to match fire with fire against them.”
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