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Robertson provides an update from his first All Blacks camp

Robertson provides an update from his first All Blacks camp

All BlacksJanuary 10, 2024

Incoming All Blacks coach Scott Robertson has asked New Zealand rugby's officialdom to keep an open mind about using overseas players for the All Blacks.

He asked the board of New Zealand Rugby, the Super Rugby franchise chief executives, the provincial and Heartland unions, not necessarily to ask someone to play for the side but to keep an open mind about where the game was when events were moving 'quite quickly' on and off-the-field.

The team coaches are watching those All Blacks playing in Japan this season and giving them feedback.

Robertson said he would name his captain choice when the first squad to prepare to play England in mid-year is announced. He had discussions ahead with various parties, and that was to respect all options open.

He also expected to meet with former coach Ian Foster to complete a handover and to discuss his experiences.

Robertson said the two-day camp this week in Auckland had been for the management group and the World Cup All Blacks to connect and have fitness assessment, testing, and one-on-one discussions.

The message for players was to go back to their Super Rugby Pacific sides and do what All Blacks do – lead, play well and be consistent, get on and off the field right, and then go out and enjoy it.

Robertson said he and his management group would be checking, observing, and giving feedback through the Super Rugby coaches so they were aligned. There would also be some travel to the northern hemisphere for sponsorship commitments and to see the England-Ireland Six Nations game, as England will tour New Zealand this year.

He would also travel to Japan to meet the All Blacks playing in that competition.

Weekly updates would be made during the Super Rugby season to ensure the coaching group was well organised.

All Blacks coaching team assembled 🤝#AllBlacks pic.twitter.com/FKqvlHXZN7

— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) January 9, 2024

The returning players had presented fit and well-rested with the extra time after a World Cup.

He said there would be a change in the breaks All Blacks would require. It would come down to individual load management.

"We found five or six matches wasn't enough for players, so we've got Super coaches to look at their draw over the round-robin; they've still got to have a couple of games off, but to look at the individual player to see how many games they need."

It was a case of what was best for each player rather than having an all-encompassing rule.

There would also be a wider training group that would be individually managed.

However, Super Rugby demanded that selectors keep options open for players to come in because there were always players who came through. He cited halfback Cam Roigard as an example.

"They're well-coached at Super Rugby level and someone can come into the picture pretty quickly."

He said his coaching group would see Leon MacDonald looking after the back three, Jason Holland doing the midfield, and Scott Hansen the inside backs. Robertson would look after the loose forwards and Jason Ryan the tight five.

Robertson said rather than being concerned about some positions where there was a loss of key personnel after the World Cup, he was excited about the opportunities for players to step up.

While some iconic locks had left, some exciting younger players have emerged.

And while halfback Aaron Smith's experience couldn't be replaced, there were still players as skilled, gifted and passionate as him.

"And we've got a few coming through."

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