New Zealand Rugby
Smith: We must avoid Springboks downfall
ESPNscrum Staff
October 22, 2010

Conrad Smith says the All Blacks will learn a valuable lesson from South Africa as they build towards the World Cup - by trying not to fall from grace as the Springboks have done.

South Africa were the world's top team a year ago but they have fallen off the pace in 2010, registering just one win from their six Tri-Nations tests against New Zealand and Australia.

Their style of play, built around kicking for field position and set pieces, seems to have been superseded by the running rugby adopted by the All Blacks and the Wallabies.

Now it's the All Blacks who are clearly the world's best side thanks to their 15-game winning streak. There have been suggestions the All Blacks are peaking early, since it's still nearly a year until rugby's showpiece. New Zealand centre Smith believes if the World Cup hosts rest on their laurels, they too will be reined in.

"If you sit back and try and play the same game it's pretty easy to get caught up, I mean, you look at South Africa this time last year -- they were riding high and I think they were the first to admit they rested on the same tactics and everyone else adjusted," Smith said. "We've got to think of new ways to always improve our game."

New Zealand meet the Wallabies in Hong Kong on October 30 before continuing on to their northern hemisphere tour. Smith admitted the Wallabies made up a lot of ground during the Tri-Nations, despite the 3-0 record enjoyed by the All Blacks, and that the Australians were benefiting from being the hunters rather than the hunted.

"They've played pretty smart, they've improved on each game and they were aware of where they could improve and they made a lot of changes that have worked well. On the other side of it, we probably haven't adjusted our game too much and as can happen you get a bit complacent with what you're doing if it's working well."

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