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'What do we protect and what do we evolve?': Inside the All Blacks' new era

By Ned Lester
All Blacks coach Scott Robertson and assistant coach Jason Ryan at All Blacks camp. Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Scott Robertson’s promotion to All Blacks coach has been a long time in the making and comes with great expectations. As expected, the seven-time Super Rugby winning coach hit the ground running, as recalled by his assistant.

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Jason Ryan revealed last week how some of the initial conversations went when the new coaching group first came together, and how Robertson set the tone for this next era of All Blacks rugby.

The team have a proud history and an iconic style of play in their DNA, something that has excited fans the world over but also can make evolving with global trends extra challenging.

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As Ryan explained, that’s something Robertson didn’t waste any time in tackling head-on.

“I think one of the many great things that Razor has done, and has done with the same model in the leadership group, is he’s gone what do we protect and what do we evolve?” The forwards coach revealed on the All Blacks Podcast.

“And that’s just brilliant, it’s a chance for the leaders to go ok, well this is something that’s been special, challenge it by the same token, and this is something we think we can do a lot better.

“There’s been some real good cases of doing stuff better, and that’s exactly what the All Blacks are about. Striving to be the best.

“I guess a little bit for myself as well, I have been able to give him a little bit of info on things and be the second set of eyes, which I always have been and making sure he’s got a few things covered that maybe he hasn’t thought of. It’s a beautiful mind, but how that thing is, she’s running through some thoughts.

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“That’s exciting, but, everything’s really shiny at the moment because we effectively haven’t done anything, we haven’t had our first game.

“But, we’ll be prepared and we will be ready through everyone getting an opportunity to have their say.”

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Robertson has been open and honest about the importance of selecting the right coaching staff to complement his style and complete his skill set. The coach has been equally honest about his weaknesses, owning the need to have people around him with contrasting strengths, hence Ryan’s bluntness around being a second pair of eyes.

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Selection debate is heating up with just a week to go before the first squad of the year is named, and Ryan admitted the loose forward make-up is looking especially difficult to name, with so many standout players throughout the Super Rugby season.

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Now with just one match remaining in the season, the Blues and Chiefs players have one last shot to bring their respective regions a title and make their case for All Blacks selection. Ryan’s insight suggests there will be extra emphasis on mindset.

“We want to have a team that’s really flexible in their thinking about how we want to play and constantly wanting to evolve our game. I think that’s a big one.”

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Mzilikazi 3 hours ago
Daugunu salvo shows why Wallabies work-rate is everything to Schmidt

Nice article, Brett, and good to be writing about a second win. I think Georgia will be far more testing. Tbh, I have not looked at their touring squad, but at full strength they are a far better and more dangerous team than they were at RWC France. They would have been disappointed they did not perform to full potential there. I think that the WB’s under Joe Schmidt have started soundly. Recovery from a serious setback always takes time. And the Jones era was that and more. I think the arrival of Les Kiss back to his native Qld. is a very positive factor, and the fact that he and Schmidt know each other well is a help. Players I think are much improved this year: Daugunu, who has blossomed with the Rebels, so credit to the coaching unit down there. Am pleased he will come back to the Reds. McReight is said to have put on up to 7 kgs since last season. His work rate has always been good, but it is his carrying into contact that has gone up. Now makes those critical one or two metres post contact very often. Is conceding fewer penalties now as his game matures. Rob Valetini was good last year, but is now a greater force this one. A really punishing ball carrier. Hunter Paisami is now a more controlled player. His carrying into contact is very impressive for an 80 kg man. Interestingly, if you saw Nick Bishops latest article, he has a team for RC with Kerevi at 12. Also Skelton in the team. Not sure if there will be o’seas players as early as RC though….but need them in by the EYOT games.

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