New Zealand Rugby
McAlister not the answer at fly-half & NZPA
June 27, 2009
All Blacks fly-half Luke McAlister loses the ball in the tackle, New Zealand v Italy, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand, June 27, 2009
Luke McAlister served up a mixed bag in Christchurch © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Luke McAlister | Isaac Ross
Tournaments/Tours: Italy tour
Teams: Italy | New Zealand

All Black Luke McAlister doesn't believe that he is the answer to their current crisis at fly-half, offering no excuses after an error-prone performance against Italy in the No.10 jersey.

McAlister started his first Test since 2007 in Christchurch after a time playing at centre for Sale in the Guinness Premiership, and looked off the pace in a poor performance in front of a small crowd. McAlister took over from Stephen Donald in the playmaker's role, but the absence of the injured Dan Carter was keenly felt as the All Blacks' back-play looked stilted and inaccurate against an obdurate Italy side.

"It was a bit helter-skelter wasn't it?" said McAlister. "I'm still finding my feet, it's not going to happen overnight. Having not had much game time at 10 and coming to this sort of level, it's going to take time I guess."

Asked whether he should be entrusted with the No.10 jersey against the Wallabies in the Tri-Nations opener at Auckland's Eden Park on July 18, McAlister was honest in his assessment.

"I don't think so," he said. "I need to make a lot of adjustments and work on certain parts of my game. There were probably too many dropped passes, especially in the first 20. That put us under pressure.

"Field position we struggled with. I probably ran it too much from our own 22. There were too many turnovers."

The All Blacks' injury woes were plain to see as they stuttered past the Azzurri, but they could at least take heart from the marauding performance of lock Isaac Ross, in as cover for regular second-row general Ali Williams. The All Blacks management were quick to play down the performance of the young Ross however.

"I don't think you can expect Isaac to be an Ali Williams," said coach Steve Hansen. "Ali Williams took some time to become the player that he is and Isaac's no different. He's going to take time to become a complete rugby player.

"There are some parts of his game that are world class internationally already and there are other parts of his game that we need to improve and we'll work on that but it'll take time."


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