Evans: Kiwis ‘are trying new moves’
FORMER New Zealand flyhalf Nick Evans has warned Northern Hemisphere fans not to read too much into the All Blacks’ playing style this Autumn as they could be trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes.
Evans won 16 caps for his country between 2004 and 2007 before moving to Harlequins, where he is now coaching, but is an avid follower of his old side.
The 38-year-old took a keen interest in the Rugby Championship which New Zealand won despite losing to South Africa in Wellington.
Evans says the All Blacks are all about the World Cup and could be trying new systems in games against England next weekend, followed by Ireland and Italy.
“It has been a big season for the All Blacks,” said Evans. “I sit back and watch them and kind of try and work out what they are doing. People will look at some of the results and say they haven’t played that well but I look at them and say have they been trying things?
“There was a game when they just didn’t kick. New Zealand are always in the top three in terms of kicks in play so they kick a lot more than you think.
“Is this just the way the game is going or are they trying to push themselves to a threshold just so they can see what they can do going into the World Cup?
“Maybe they are going to come to a game when they can’t kick at all, or they don’t want to kick, how far can they push that with ball in hand before they get to the tipping point?
“In the first game against Australia they looked all over the place so are they trying different set-ups? This is the time to do it and get it sorted out.”
New Zealand have not played England since 2014 and Evans is expecting them to get a thorough work out from Eddie Jones’ side and Ireland a week later especially if the weather is poor.
“The main goal is the World Cup and whatever happens here will be testing the waters and trying combinations and just seeing how things unfold.
“They are coming up against probably the two best defensive international teams in England and Ireland and they are going to come up against good kicking teams. I have always said Ireland and England are the best wet weather teams in the world so it will be interesting to see if they have different set-ups.”