This is it All Blacks – get mindset right and do the job
When the All Blacks go looking for blueprints and ways to knock over the Wallabies tomorrow, they should be looking at how the Irish hoed into them.
Teams who have been really physical against the Wallabies have gained some advantage; the Irish pummelled them in their pool game.
I thought the Springboks would have done the job up front against the Wallabies in their very physical quarter-final and while the Boks had an enormous possession advantage, Australia matched them physically where they needed to.
They were sensational at the breakdown and David Pocock was right at the heart of that and, defensively, they missed a few tackles but managed to cover up well. Some of the hits were pretty good.
The All Blacks have the physical artillery to take this semifinal. Throughout the tournament I have been impressed with Jerome Kaino and now Kieran Read is starting to come back into form and with the front row getting their scrummaging, ball-carrying and cleanouts in order, that is great cause for optimism.
Brad Thorn and Sam Whitelock bring stacks of courage and energy into their work and they attack the game hard all the time.
They will all need that mindset going into this test to get on top physically and dominate.
It is tough getting “up” for lots of games but once the All Blacks qualified for the playoffs they had to reset themselves for the finals. It is very intense.
It is more difficult to recover but it is about their mindset going into games. This is a semifinal and for most of these guys, they have not been at this stage before. They will be up for it because this is it, we are at home and they have plenty of support.
There will not be any magical messages and team talks from Richie McCaw and Graham Henry tomorrow. The key will be what’s been done during the week. If it’s been a light training week they will have been talking more, reiterating what they need to do. Just before they run out there will be some “this is it” words and demands about actions meeting those words.
It will not be so much about what is said but all the squad should be in the right mood to do the job.
During the week Henry would have got alongside the senior players, just to check off their lists and make sure they were content with what had been done. Those guys would then go away to co-ordinate their mini-groups.
Tomorrow is too late. Henry knows all the work has to be done by then.
The worst thing is coaches who think they have not done enough and try to cram things or think the players have not done enough. You pick that desperation up as a player and feel there is a lack of trust and that is not a good place to be.
It is the tricky dynamic in preparation. Coaches cannot overload players even though they would like to be at them all the time and each player has individual ways of preparing for tests.
Some want time and space, others like interacting, some like me, used to favour some sleep in the afternoon.
You have to let them go in their own direction. Some guys like Andrew Mehrtens, Justin Marshall and Jerry Collins were very relaxed and you wondered if they were playing a game that day.
It is a long wait until the 9pm kickoff, but they’ll start to get more in focus when they have a meal about four hours before kickoff and the routines begin to kick in.