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Scott Robertson talks 'the art of coaching' in first interview as All Blacks coach

By Ned Lester
New All Blacks coach, Scott Robertson, coaching for the Barbarians. Photo by Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images for Barbarians

New All Blacks coach Scott Robertson officially took over the role from Ian Foster on November 1 and has been quietly going about his business since.

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The seven-time Super Rugby champion coach has been busy finalising his wider staff having already revealed his assistant coaches and a handful of other appointments.

A stint in France to catch some of the Rugby World Cup action preceded a gig assisting Eddie Jones’ Barbarians team, who lost to Wales in a farewell showpiece for 170-Test legend Alun Wyn Jones. But, now it would seem it’s all systems go in All Blacks camp.

The highly anticipated Razor era is upon us and the coach is under no illusions of the challenge ahead of him, dealing with an exodus of veteran talent as well as the jump to international-level coaching.

His first interview as All Blacks coach was predominantly focused on promoting gut health, as he and former All Black Israel Dagg joined forces with the Gut Foundation to raise awareness for the “review your poo” initiative, which aims to protect Kiwis from bowel cancer. He was also inevitably asked about the All Blacks.

“You’ve got your models, you’ve got your structures and you coach the best team in front of you,” Robertson told New Zealand’s AM show.

“I’ve got the way I coach, you don’t change yourself as a person, but you might change a few things around your models.

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“Test matches are different, they’re played a little bit differently. You’ve got to bring people together pretty quickly and create a strong narrative and connection.

“That’s the stuff I love – get a story going that connects us. I’m looking forward to it.”

Indeed, the narratives Robertson carves for each campaign have become well-known as the self-proclaimed storyteller works to offer his team a crystal clear identity.

While Ian Foster this week took time to emphasise the amount of young talent that has been blooded in recent seasons in the black jersey, Robertson will lose the services of eight of New Zealand’s finest players in 2024. Names like Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith, Brodie Retallick and Richie Mo’unga will be absent from the coach’s first team sheet.

“You can never replace experience,” Robertson said. “But you can replace that with talent and coach them, and give them opportunities to perform. That’s the art of coaching.”

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With remarkable expectations on his shoulders, the coach has been chewing through “a lot of interviews”, bringing “a great crew together” to lead one of the world’s most successful teams into another World Cup cycle.

Robertson says he will travel around the country to pool the local rugby communities’ knowledge and perspectives on how best to take the game forward.

“Now it’s time to get around the grounds, talk to people, get a lot of information about guys who are currently in there and who are leaving.

“So, I spend a lot of time talking to those individuals, getting the tip of the gold out and what’s required for the All Blacks, they believe, moving forward.”

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Red and White Dynamight 2 hours ago
Duhan van der Merwe hat-trick sinks sloppy England to win Calcutta Cup

Up the Jocks ! a great team effort and 4 victories v on the bounce v their greatest rivals for those north of Hadrians. But, of course, before the celebrations survive the first pint of McEwans, it seems for some this Calcutta Cup match was merely 1 man v 15. What exactly is it about Sth Africans that make them such insufferable bores ? you rarely see Kiwis claiming Ireland victories (incl 3 x NZers) or Aussies for that matter (X1). You never see Samoans claiming France/England victories (Tuilagis). Or Fijians claim All Black victories. Scotland have had some great Kiwi-born players (S.Lineen/B.Laney/J.Leslie) - no surprise given their heritage - but they supported them as their ‘2nd team’. If anything they applaud their countrymen for taking opportunities and bettering themselves as professionals and, hopefully, competing on the World stage too. It takes some stratospheric level of stupid to ignore the opaque boundaries and qualifications that now allow Japan to be competitive, Portugal to win a RWC game, Argentinians to play for Italy, New Zealanders to dominate Tongan and Samoan teams - and not celebrate that World Rugby is more competitive and better for it. Everywhere on social media, even when the post has zero to do with Sth Africans (schoolboy rugby being the most obvious barrel-scraping eg - these are KIDS), they pile in and try to claim the “we are better/stronger/faster” with such voluminous levels of obnoxious bile, that it poisons the mere celebration of the sport itself. These are not ‘rugby fans’ that can marvel at the Game they Play in Heaven, but rather some misplaced insecure-fuelled poison that they need to extract from deep inside their psyche. Its hard to understand the exact reason for the massive chip on their shoulders and their desperation for the victimhood/noone-loves-us-we-dont-care, but it seems accelerated with their LOTTO Cup 1-pt wins, like gasoline on the fire. Obsessed with ‘cheating’ refs and ‘cheating’ opposition (Rassies video bloopers during Lions tour; McCaw’s whole career) and celebrating their own thuggery (#JUSTICE4 the dirtiest player in pro-rugby history), when luck suddenly goes their way (1995 Final vs an acutely comprimised ABs; Kilosi<->Cane cards in 2023 Final) or their players escape adequate penalty (Etzebeth 1-handed non-intercepts; Kolbe illegal chargedown; Etzebeth cynically retreating in the AB backline) so obviously that its clearly been coached, then suddenly its AOK as long its SA that benefit directly from it. The schizophrenic nature of Sth Africans presents them as good company in person - and lets face it, theyre EVERYWHERE now and cant get out of their own country fast enough - but as anonymous keyboard ninjas their true nature shines out as one beset with a dark undercurrent of toxic self-absorption. It appears that the bravado appears only under the protection of anonymity, a cowardice of insufferable reverse-flagellation to make themselves feel proud when the mirror stares back at them. Give yourselves a long slow clap. Well done to the entire Scotland team including all those born south of Hadrians Wall. Playing a fantastic fast pace of fluid ball-in-hands rugby that seems almost foreign to other teams. Och aye the noo.

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