Former England player Stuart Barnes says World Cup rivals should stop calling Steve Hansen’s men the “All Blacks” and “think of them as New Zealand – a little country at the bottom of the world.”
Barnes, a former first five-eighth who is now a rugby journalist, wrote a column in The Times about how to beat the All Blacks at the 2019 World Cup.
“Believe it is possible,” he urged. “Stop calling them the bloody All Blacks. I know this isn’t original but it is important.
“Your team may match them for speed, skill, strength, fitness and a furious determination to be the best but if your players bed down the night before and think ‘All Blacks’, all the ability in the world won’t count against rugby’s darkest of auras. That deep-seated self-belief is crucial.
“The lack of it is an All Black weapon that self-destructs in opponents’ faces. New Zealand have an astounding win rate but forget history. In 2017, New Zealand lost twice; ditto last season. Two defeats in 2019 and chances are they won’t be winning the World Cup. They’ve already lost one.”
Barnes said teams had to “defend ferociously” to cut down the All Blacks’ time and space, which would make “Sonny Bill Williams looks a bit of a blunderer and Beauden Barrett a mere mortal”.
He said South Africa’s switch to a faster line speed on defence under new coach Rassie Erasmus had “turned the tide”.
Teams also had to contest the All Blacks’ set piece, Barnes said.
“Use any technique, legal or illegal, to undermine the foundations of their scrum. In the lineout, Kiwi hookers are no different to the rest. No one likes to throw with a jungle of opposing arms in the air. Take them on at source. Australia did this to beat them in Perth last month in a magnificent, old-fashioned way.”
Barnes said the All Blacks’ opponents should “kick the ball to row Z” because “New Zealand relish a broken field” in which to launch counter attacks.
Teams should also not be afraid to concede penalties to the All Blacks.”
This may seem irrational but New Zealand, while Barrett is first-choice kicker, have a propensity for missing more three-pointers than the majority of the world’s best teams.”
Barnes also claimed the All Blacks were “defensively vulnerable around the fringes of set pieces and breakdowns” and opponents should attack them there.
Anyone aspiring to beat the All Blacks had to “go the full 80 minutes” because Hansen’s men “can appear down but they are rarely out. Their ability to get impact from the bench can change a game”.
This content was originally published here.