12 Aug 2015

OPINION: All Blacks need fast turnaround in form

11:31 am on 12 August 2015
The All Blacks captain Richie McCaw  looks dejected after New Zealand's loss to the Wallabies.

The All Blacks captain Richie McCaw looks dejected after New Zealand's loss to the Wallabies. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The All Blacks have to do some serious soul-searching this week, following their 27-19 loss to the Wallabies at ANZ Stadium in Sydney at the weekend.

It was the first time the All Blacks had lost to Australia in four years, and it also meant the Wallabies won the 2015 Rugby Championship.

Many of the New Zealand side's problems stemmed from their poor execution at the breakdown due to the immense pressure David Pocock and Michael Hooper put on the likes of Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and the likes of McCaw have noted these problems since they first became apparent against Samoa early last month, but it seems not a lot has changed.

They were lucky to get away with a lack of urgency against Argentina and South Africa, but David Pocock and Michael Hooper were too smart and too skillful to let the same happen to them.

The twin flankers dominated New Zealand's breakdown and forced easy turnovers that would never have happened if the All Blacks' loose forwards had been quicker to the ball.

All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick pointed out that it was a problem that needed to be fixed quickly.

"I think everybody has taken it personally and it's something that we haven't got right and it's been a problem so if you need to react or if you need to clean the ruck, then we need the people to do it."

Players like McCaw, Read, Kaino and even Retallick have been around long enough to admit to their mistakes and work hard at fixing them quickly.

That sense of urgency is needed now more than ever, and this weekend's final Bledisloe Cup Test will be the last chance to get it, right before the fast-approaching World Cup.

If the All Blacks can't protect their own ball at the breakdown again this weekend at Eden Park, they can kiss the Bledisloe Cup and the Webb Ellis Trophy goodbye.

Luckily, it's a talented and experienced All Blacks forward pack - and it's now time for them to step up, turn their words into actions and lead from the front to help create better opportunities for their suffering backs.

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