Robertson’s All Blacks ready for first Test against England

Razor WEB

Coach Scott Robertson launches a new era against a formidable rival, also in the renewal process in the assured good conditions of the covered Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Opening his coaching role in Dunedin had hit home when walking down the street how excited the public was about the Test.

The excitement around the series was down to England's quality.

"Steve's [Borthwick] a good coach, got a good coaching staff. That's why there's so much excitement."

Robertson said England plays a good pressure game. They can employ their line speed when they get their kicks right and are aggressive in defence.

He was aware of the expectations in his new role. He had experienced that with the 500,000 in the Crusaders region; now, it was from five million across the country.

"That's part of the responsibility of the role. And from 1996, I've been involved in professional rugby, so being an All Black as well helps."

Most things stayed the same as a player or a coach.

"Saturday night is when it really comes on, and the performance and keeping a calm and clear head, and all that time I spent getting ready is when it is on."

He hadn't experienced before the size of the organisation around the side and the logistics involved in travelling.

"We're away 114 days this year from when you press go so you do a lot of travelling and there're a lot of hotels. We're a team of the country so there are five Tests here and nine Tests away. We're an export country, and we put a lot overseas too."

Robertson said the selections for the game were based on intended combinations, who had played a lot of rugby recently and had been involved in finals rugby.

"It's the best team for this Test. Those combinations are critical."

The team had a lot of experience, and the bench was also experienced.

Recent rugby played was behind the preference for Stephen Perofeta at fullback ahead of Beauden Barrett.

"The experience of 12 Test matches counts for a lot, but there's also a guy who's in form, good round the high ball and who two weeks ago was in a Test match level game in a [Super Rugby Pacific] final, and Beauden could play his part in covering ten and 15."

Blindside flanker Samepeni Finau brought height and weight, was an excellent lineout jumper, could tackle and was physical.

The choice of TJ Perenara, who recovered from an Achilles tendon rupture, was down to form.

"He's on form, he's a competitor. He's 80 Test matches in, he's played a lot, been around."


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