New Zealand Herald journalist Gregor Paul was on Thursday’s OTB AM and said he believed the All Blacks have been holding back this year.
New Zealand kick off their World Cup campaign with a mouth-watering clash against South Africa this Saturday.
The All Blacks have been unconvincing in recent times, losing to Ireland last November before drawing with the Springboks and succumbing to a heavy loss against Australia.
While this wouldn’t have been in head coach Steve Hansen’s plans, Paul believes that the world champions have been waiting until now to unleash their full game-plan.
“I don’t think there’s been any doubt that they’ve been working very carefully and deliberately towards an attacking game that, I wouldn’t say they’ve really kept it secret, but they haven’t really been able to show all parts of it.
“They’ve deliberately held parts of it back in the games they’ve played this year. Out here in Japan, behind closed doors, they’ve obviously been working on the last parts of it and getting used to it,” Paul said.
The usually free-flowing All Blacks have been left stumped on many occasions by the rush defence used by many teams recently.
While Steve Hansen’s side may not be as talented as the side that won the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the Scottish-born journalist was confident that they’d have a few tricks up their sleeve.
“The All Blacks haven’t responded that well to date in the last year or so to that sort of challenge.
“But I think what we do know about the All Blacks is that they go away and they analyse and they come up with a plan.
“How it’ll look, I guess we’ll find out on Saturday. But I think we’ll definitely see something that will be asking more of defensive coaches,” Paul commented.
New Zealand's quest for a record fourth Rugby World Cup title begins this weekend against the Springboks and a winning start could be crucial to send them on their way.