Thu, Oct 29, 2015 - Page 19 News List

All Blacks focus on proper execution for final

AP, LONDON

There is nothing left for New Zealand to glean from the two Tests against Australia in August that will be of use in their Rugby World Cup final on Saturday.

Australia won the first in Sydney 27-19 to clinch the Rugby Championship, and New Zealand won the second 41-13 in Auckland to retain the Bledisloe Cup.

“It’s a total clean sheet,” All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said on Monday of their third game of the year, and biggest ever.

“The lessons we’ve learned from Sydney and Eden Park we’ve already applied into our game and put them into practice,” he said. “They [the Wallabies] are the same.”

That includes the dual threat of Wallabies openside flankers David Pocock and Michael Hooper.

They were used for the first time in Sydney to revelatory effect. They were not so great in Auckland when they came together from halftime.

In that match, the All Blacks started Victor Vito on the blindside instead of regular Jerome Kaino, and replaced the powerful Vito in the second half with Sam Cane beside Richie McCaw, giving New Zealand two opensides on the field. By then, they were up 34-6.

Asked how much the All Blacks still considered Pocock and Hooper a threat, Foster’s evasive answer suggested they still did.

The All Blacks would not be sending more people into the breakdowns to prevent their ball being turned over by Pocock and Hooper, Foster said.

“It’s not a matter of us changing what we do,” he said. “We just got to do stuff better.”

Cane agreed.

“For us, it’s pretty simple,” he said. “If we get our ball carries right and focus on the urgency of our cleaners ... that’s all we can control, and that’s just what we’ve got to do to the best of our ability.”

“If we get that right, hopefully we’ll nullify the amount of time he [Pocock] gets on it [the ball],” he said.

Pocock leads the tournament with 14 turnovers won, the only player with more than nine. The All Blacks’ best in the category is No. 8 Kieran Read with eight. All Blacks skipper McCaw has six.

Scumhalf Aaron Smith said they meet the Wallabies so regularly that it is more than about stopping them, but having plans for what they might and might not do.

“In the end, it’s about what we do, but we have to make sure we have most of the scenarios covered: Wherever the scrum is, what can they do? How can we stop it? We’ll be trying our best in that moment,” Smith said.

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