New Zealand Rugby
More changes to All Blacks' coaching staff
October 18, 2009
The All Blacks' lineout has been a focus at training © Getty Images
The All Blacks' coaching shakeup has continued, with former Canterbury and Auckland hooker John Mills added to the staff to aid Graham Henry in his new role as forwards supremo. Mills, a former pupil of Henry's at Auckland Grammar School, has been drafted in to improve the All Blacks' maul.
Mills is currently a coach at the Oxford club in North Canterbury and is the latest fresh set of eyes in the camp after Henry and assistant coaches Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen traded roles in hope of re-invigorating a mixed season ahead of their November Test tour.
He has been joined by another fresh face in Sydney Swans' Aussie Rules coach John Longmire, who is assisting kicking and skills coach Mick Byrne in improving the backs' kicking games. Hooker Corey Flynn has already praised the influence of Mills, with the maul again an important consideration following the discarding of the ELVs.
"He's got some really good ideas," said Flynn, who has returned to the All Blacks setup for the first time this season following injury. "We've had him help with some mauling. In the last couple of years the All Blacks and New Zealand mauls in general haven't been strong. We're trying to broaden our horizons there and use it as a bit of a tool."
Henry has also called on new technology as he attempts to get to grips with their creaking lineout, employing a stationary platform for his locks to stand on, simulating the heght that hookers Flynn and Andrew Hore will be throwing to in Tests.
"The lineouts got a hell of a lot more sophisticated," said Henry. "A huge amount of expertise has gone into lineout, a huge amount of analysis to make the explosiveness of the jump and trying to get people off the ground.
"Now video analysis works out the number of frames it takes to get a guy to the peak of his jump. [South African lock, Victor] Matfield is the quickest in the world off the ground to the peak of his jump."