England v New Zealand
All Blacks isolate backline problems
November 12, 2013
Cory Jane and the All Blacks backline failed to execute against France, Ian Foster says © Getty Images
England can expect to face a more clinical New Zealand team at Twickenham on Saturday after the All Blacks identified backline deficiencies in the tourists' narrow win over France.
The All Blacks lacked accuracy out wide, assistant coach Ian Foster said after a review of the 26-19 defeat of France in Paris that had, he said, exposed a number of areas of concern.
"We felt a little bit rusty in some of our execution," Foster said. "The frustrating thing is that we set up the platform quite well, and we didn't really deliver the knockout blow. Some of our final decision-making and a few running lines weren't as polished as they needed to be."
Foster said the lack of combinations were evident, as Dan Carter was playing his first major Test for two months, after a shoulder injury, and wing Cory Jane was playing his first Test for nearly a year. Foster said also that Ben Smith still had to improve his support play as he continued to learn the unfamiliar role of outside centre.
Jane, meanwhile, criticised the All Blacks' failure to counter-attack effectively from French kicks.
"We just need to work harder as a back three and talk a bit more because that was disappointing," Jane said. "We seemed to be individuals back there and if we did kick, our kicks weren't pin-point."
Jane is the only member of the starting backline from Paris whose selection is under threat - from Hurricanes teammate Julian Savea, who missed the France Test due to illness. Foster said the medical team still had to assess how Jane had come through just his third game of rugby this year, while they had to gauge the well-being of Savea as he spent much of the week in Paris in bed due to a virus.
Foster said the All Blacks would focus the early part of their week-long preparation to face England on recovery from the bruising challenge mounted by France on a heavy surface. He said the players' acknowledgement they weren't at their best in Paris has already got the team on edge, and that nervous energy would only increase through the week as they hoped to avenge their 17-point defeat in the equivalent Test last year.