NZ coach admits which match got the All Blacks players 'buzzing'
New Zealand’s defence coach spoke on Monday following another fascinating weekend of Rugby World Cup 2023, touching on what impressed him most and what’s up next for his team.
“I was hugely impressed with the intensity of the game. Set-piece pressure was huge form both sides. The defence and the movement and the collisions for as long as it was was immense. A lot of us were really impressed with watching that game. It’s definitely the standard.
“That’s what impressed me the most, the speed of play but the collisions were clean. They were very clean and accurate, there was no infringing around that area. And that’s a bloody hard thing to do that speed, with those collisions and bodies are flying everywhere and both teams did that very, very well.”
He said the New Zealand players were ‘buzzing’ from watching it.
“It definitely gets them buzzing. They can see it and they can feel it in the speed. It’s not something we’ve talked about as a group at all but the players have seen it and they’ve talked about amongst themselves. There is a buzz, that excites them, that’s the level they want to play at.”
While the All Blacks got schooled by the Springboks at Twickenham pre-tournament, McLeod says that his players are more than capable of playing to the same level of intensity and skill we saw from Ireland and South Africa.
“Absolutely. We tested that a little bit last week. We got into each other and today we trained at pace. And we are just trying to keep healthy. So we are trying to balance that, between healthy athletes and training at that intensity and speed.”
He says he doesn’t want to be drawn into discussions about the prospect of playing Ireland in the quarter finals just yet.
“I have rats and possums on my property and that’s a trap, right there. I know what a trap looks like, I know what it smells like and that to me is a trap right there.
“Pure thing being, we deal with what is in front of us. Italy are a very good side and if we look too far ahead or start thinking about others, we will come undone. So, we can’t do that. Thanks for the trap.”
After a week off in Bordeaux, McLeod says that they are looking forward to getting back to Test-match preparation.
“Last week served its purpose but this week we get a full week of preparation, which we haven’t really had before, a normal full week. For my side that means a little bit more time, to be able to go through a few more things. So really relish that.”
He also touched on Italy’s evolution as a team and where they are dangerous.
“They’ve really evolved their attack from what I can see. They had the fastest ball available in the Six Nations, better than Ireland. That’s quick. They know their game and they’re playing that well.
“They have really upped their skillset in terms of their pass and running lines. They keep the defenders engaged for a long time and hold them. And then they have ability to play out of the back or to play the guy right next to them. So, that’s quite hard to defend. You need a certain skillset where you can see what’s happening and then be able to move quickly.
“They are very good at sweeping around to an edge, trying to bunch in the middle and then sweep round to the edge, much like France do. Those threats we are aware of and we’ve got plans in place to how we can combat that.”
On how the squad and staff are loving Lyon life:
“It’s a really neat spot here. We don’t have to jump on a bus, we can go on the scooters and we can have a bit of fun doing that. It’s a nice transition into training. Things are reasonably close, we can jump on the trains. We are really enjoying this place, it’s a great place.”
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