Rugby | SPORTS

Veteran No.9 Pinpoints Areas Of Concern

All Black halfback Aaron Smith lamented his side’s ability to build pressure with the ball in the 26-10 defeat at the hands of the Springboks at Mbombela Stadium yesterday (Fiji time).
08 Aug 2022 11:20
Veteran No.9 Pinpoints Areas Of Concern
All Blacks first five eight Beauden Barrett (with ball) against South Africa with Aaron Smith and Caleb Clarke in support during the Rugby Championship clash at Mbombela Stadium in South Africa on August 7, 2022. Photo: Rugby News

All Black halfback Aaron Smith lamented his side’s ability to build pressure with the ball in the 26-10 defeat at the hands of the Springboks at Mbombela Stadium yesterday (Fiji time).

After a tough opening period where the All Blacks again con­ceded the first try, the visitors arrested some of the momentum back only to come up with a key error when on attack.

Despite some of the inconsisten­cies around the breakdown, they were still able to head to the sheds only down 10-3 which was a boost according to the veteran No 9.

“I thought the start of the game was what we expected, they came out fast and passionate,” Smith said.

“For the first 30 we were able to, they got a try off a spilled ball, and after that we were in our half for a little bit and then were able to build a bit of pressure back.

“To go in at halftime 10-3 was pretty big after that first 30 min­utes of them hard in our half. So really proud of that effort, but what went wrong was our ability to build pressure with the ball.

“Missing cleans, they were just too good on the ball. We had a cou­ple of opportunities to break them, and just couldn’t get it done.”

The breakdown was an area that plagued the All Blacks at home against Ireland at times and has been a key work-on for Ian Foster’s team.


The service against South Africa was complicated by the ability of the Springboks to get over the ball quickly after using their physical­ity in contact.

“It’s something we have been working on. Obviously the Irish series was a bit of a different vibe,” Smith explained.

“Their ability to sort of soak the tackle but then get on the ball quickly was what they were really good at tonight at certain times.

“Just our discipline to build pres­sure, so we would win a moment and then make a mistake. Get down in their half and then turn the ball over or ill- discipline, or just simple knock-ons.”


Smith said they’ve got to control things they can. “We’ve got to get a little bit better at our detail. We knew it was going to be tough, they are at home, full crowd, come out with a lot of passion.

“It’s just about nailing those lit­tle things early for us, it’s not ul­tra-frustrating, it is an 80 minute game, but it’s not ideal to start that way.

“It would be nice to score first for once.”

Smith said the side isn’t down on confidence, despite an overeager­ness perhaps to make something happen with snatching at passes and a lack of accuracy at the ruck.

He pinpointed the breakdown as an area that needs to be fixed by the team while more respect has to be paid towards the ball.

“I wouldn’t call it down on con­fidence but I think we are trying really hard as a group, there is no doubt that the group wants to bet­ter and I think we made a lot of strides this weekend,” Smith said.

“Playing a quality team, we knew it wasn’t just going to happen. But there are things there that we can fix, that we can control, like I said around the breakdown.

“We got to take the lessons and start believing in ourselves. We’ve got to respect the ball and we can’t let teams dictate terms by the breakdown.

“That is something that as a half­back, is pretty noticeable. We get really quick ball and suddenly we miss one clean out and it’s done.”


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