Coles concedes physicality needs to be better

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A decade of dominance started to unravel at the 2019 Rugby World Cup when England beat New Zealand in the semifinal.


The Covid-19 affected 2020 season reduced the time and opportunities to reimpose themselves, while the intensity of 2021's 15-Test programme was reflected in the latter stages of the campaign.


It was a change in the world rugby order that was not lost on All Blacks hooker Dane Coles in the wake of the 25-40 France loss.


"There was a time you could come up here, change players week to week, and still get a couple of wins," he said.


“Now, you need your best team out there every week. And the way these [France] boys are playing, they've got a young team, but they're ahead of their years.”

Dane Coles


"The experience we had [on the field], we probably didn't show that.


"They ran a lot of ball tonight. They play a different style to the Irish and African lads, putting teams under pressure and squeezing them, and, unfortunately, we've been on the receiving end the last couple of weeks," he said.


Teams appeared to not be as in awe of the All Blacks' power.



"In Test footy, physicality is your No1 mindset. If you don't have that, you can't get yourself into the game.


"Against Ireland, and the African boys, we were not where we needed to be, but it seemed like the speed of the game today…that first 20 they broke us on the outsides.


"The physicality round our defensive lineout stuff wasn't where it needed to be," he said.


Coles could see how the lack of physicality impacted their first two losses to South Africa and Ireland, but at the time of speaking, he was still struggling to get his head around the Paris loss.


"For us to be where we want to be, we've got to step up in that department. Teams are coming for us. I don't have the magic things to make it all good, but we've got to sort it out the next couple of years," he said.


"We've got to look ourselves in the eye and have those tough conversations we can't shy away from. Those last two games haven't been good enough.


"There's always an expectation as an All Black to perform and put our hands up. We haven't done that [in] the last two weeks.


"We started the second half with a bit of intent, got stuck in, and I thought the impact boys came on and were good. But we couldn't bring it back.


"I think we've blooded some really good players in, but, when we've been put under pressure the last couple of games, it's not good enough. We need to take everything out of it, dissect it, and we need to be better," he said.



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