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Lineout king ready to show his worth

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Sportal.co.nz     31 May 2007     Photosport

The All Blacks left on that tour with forwards coach Steve Hansen vowing there would be a significant improvement in what had been a disappointing lineout through the home international season.

That improvement occurred and Jack was an integral part of its success.

The most experienced of New Zealand's locks was the top-ranked lock in the world but in more recent times South Africa has re-established itself as the kingpin in that department, largely through the control of Victor Matfield.

The Bulls lineout was the last that Jack played against in the Rebel Sport Super 14 semi-final in Pretoria and he was more than happy with how the Crusaders did in that department.

"South Africa have been pretty good in that area and that game was a good test, but I was happy with the way our lineout went. They are the benchmark at the moment.

"But we are still honing our lineout and getting things right, we are doing it as best we can," he said.

Though not knowing what to expect from unknown Frenchmen at the weekend is a problem.

"It is pretty difficult for us, it is hard to know what they are going to bring.

"But this week is about looking after our own game and then next week we should have a bit of footage to look at," he said.

Inevitably any talk this year is about the World Cup but Jack said the side realised that what it does now will impact on what it does later and the Iveco series would have some importance as the side heads towards the Cup.

Jack said there was no doubt that the loss to Australia in the semi-finals at the last World Cup hurt.

"That hurt, and it hurt for a long time. And even if we do win this one I think it would still hurt," he said.

There was pressure from the public, but that was not as great as the pressure the players put on themselves.

"It's something you really want to do for New Zealand, and New Zealand really wants you to do it. It's just part of the whole process," he said.

And Jack knows that part of New Zealand's prospects depend on the lineout being a contributor to the overall performance.