Bay of Plenty Times

Wrong game to take risks

With the All Blacks in a three-way tus­sle for the Tri Na­tions tro­phy, ex­pect to see the strong­est team named

- Alex Mcleod for Rug­by­pass This ar­ti­cle was orig­i­nally pub­lished on Rug­by­ and is reprinted with their per­mis­sion. Sports · Rugby · Newcastle United Football Club · Argentina · Australia national rugby union team · World Rugby · New Zealand national rugby union team · Bled · Akira Ioane

We have a lot of new fel­las and we wanted to re­ward them with [game] time. Some have got that, some haven’t. Some haven’t got a lot. John Plumtree All Blacks as­sis­tant coach

All Blacks as­sis­tant coach John Plumtree has dropped ahint athowhe and his co-se­lec­tors plan to pick this week’s team to face Los Pu­masin New­cas­tle on Satur­day.

In what will be their fi­nal test of the year, the All Blacks will be look­ing to bounce back from two con­sec­u­tive losses, the lat­ter of which­was a shock re­sult as Ar­gentina top­pled­new Zealand for the first time in test rugby his­tory.

Af­ter aweek off fol­low­ing the 25-15 de­feat at Bankwest Sta­dium, the­new Zealan­ders will turn their at­ten­tion to their fi­nal as­sign­ment of 2020 with the Tri-na­tions ti­tle on the linewhen they­nametheir team later today.

Ar­gentina’s 15-all draw with the Wal­la­bies last week­end­has blown the tour­na­ment wide open, with all three teams tied on six com­pe­ti­tion points.

Need­ing awin to have any chance of claim­ing the the sil­ver­ware on of­fer, Plumtree has in­di­cated the All Blacks are likely to field their strong­est avail­able team, rather than use the match as a chance to de­velop young­sters.

Speak­ing to me­dia, Plumtree said the lack of tests this year has pre­vented in­ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers from gain­ing as­muchga­me­time as he and his fel­low se­lec­tors would have liked.

How­ever, he en­sured that test caps won’t be handed out eas­ily, and the best in­ter­ests of the team will be taken into con­sid­er­a­tionwhenit comes to pick­ing this week’s side.

“Ideally, we­wanted to give ev­ery­one time on this trip,” Plumtree said.

“We­have a lot ofnewfel­las and we­wanted to re­ward them with [game] time. Some­have got that, some­haven’t. Some­haven’t got a lot, but that’s just the na­ture of be­ing with this team. It’s not a given right to be se­lected for the All Blacks.

“We­don’t have a lot of tests, and as se­lec­tors, we’ve got to do what’s best for the team, but right now, we’re in a sit­u­a­tion wherewe­have to do re­ally well, like Beaudy [Bar­rett] said, around this week­end in terms of the Tri-na­tions.

“That’s the tro­phy that we’re af­ter nowwe’ve got the Bled [Bledis­loe Cup] put away, and­nowwe’re in for a sniff of the Tri-na­tions and we’ll be go­ing hard at that.”

That doesn’tmean­those with fewer test caps than their­more ex­pe­ri­enced team­mates are out of the run­ning, though.

In fact, whenasked whether Akira Ioane, whomade­his test de­but in the 24-22 loss to the Wal­la­bies in Bris­bane three weeks ago on the back of an im­pres­sive Su­per Rugby sea­son, was push­ing for his sec­ond cap, Plumtree was clear in his re­sponse.

“Yup, def­i­nitely,” he said, “and Hoskins [So­tutu] we’re look­ing at as well, and Dal­ton Pa­palii hasn’t had a lot of time as well.

“All these play­ers have been fan­tas­tic through Su­per Rugby and they’ve been great on this trip as well — if th­ey­come­off the bench or if they’re help­ing us get­ting pre­pared, I can’t fault them.

“They all de­serve an op­por­tu­nity, it’s just whether they get it.”

Re­gard­less ofwhois asked to front against Ar­gentina at Mcdon­ald Jones Sta­dium, one thing is cer­tain— a vast im­prove­ment in dis­ci­pline will be key if the All Blacks are to fin­ish the sea­son on ahigh note.

Bar­rettwas quick to ad­mit that, say­ing his side was guilty of reacting too eas­ily to the nig­gle dished out by both the Wal­la­bies and Lospumasin their two most re­cent tests, lead­ing to need­less penal­ties which cost them dearly.

The two-time World Rugby Player of the Year said the All Blacks will need tomakead­just­ments to their mind­set if they are to stay on the right side of the ref­eree and give them­selves the best chance of vic­tory.

“It’s clearly been our dis­ci­pline,” Bar­rett said­whenasked where things have been go­ing wrong for the All Blacks in re­cent weeks.

“The last two games, you’ve seen ref­er­ees be­ing forced tomake­some big de­ci­sions and a lot of penaltiesu­p against us.

“We­can’t give the­many op­por­tu­nity to do that, that starts with us and our dis­ci­pline.

“You look at our at­tack and de­fence and you can pick that apart as­muchas youwant, but it starts with us not giv­ing the refs any­thing.”

In or­der to help com­bat his squad’s ill-dis­ci­pline, Plumtree re­vealed head coach Ian Fos­ter had de­vised a train­ing regime de­signed to force his side to sub­due their frus­tra­tions on the field.

“We’re putting the play­ers un­der pres­sure and Fozzie’s been work­ing re­ally hard on that, just with com­ing up­with­some cre­ative games where, po­ten­tially, the play­ers might get a lit­tle bit up­set with­someof his de­ci­sions,” Plumtree said.

“That’s just part of it, so there has been a big fo­cus for us off the field as well, sowe­feel like we’ve­come a long­wayin that space.

“I think a lot of the play­ers have learned­more about that, just con­trol­ling their emo­tions on the pitch— when things don’t go so well, how­dowego about that, howwe help each other as well out there.

“These are all things that have been a big fo­cus for us the last cou­ple of weeks.”

Justhowwel­l the All Blacks have learned to tem­per their griev­ances will be put to the test this week­end.

 ?? Photo / Mark Mitchell ?? The All Blacks’ top ta­ble of cap­tain Sam Cane (left), head coach Ian Fos­ter and as­sis­tant John Plumtree.
Photo / Mark Mitchell The All Blacks’ top ta­ble of cap­tain Sam Cane (left), head coach Ian Fos­ter and as­sis­tant John Plumtree.

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