All Blacks assistant coach John Plumtree says their players are ‘fired up’ over off-the-ball incidents during their Bledisloe Cup draw with the Wallabies last Sunday.
The All Blacks let a 10-point lead slip to be held to a thrilling 16-16 draw with the Wallabies in a drama-filled first of four Bledisloe Cup Tests in Wellington.
Ahead of the rematch at Eden Park, where the All Blacks have not lost since 1994, assistant coach Plumtree aired their players’ grievances with the Wallabies’ tactics during the first Test.
It was the Wallabies’ first match under new head coach Dave Rennie, whom Plumtree has previously faced when the two were charge of the Chiefs and Sharks, respectively.
When asked by the media whether the first Bledisloe Cup Test reminded him of Rennie’s former teams, Plumtree went on the offensive against the Wallabies’ tactics.
‘Yeah, there were some similarities, and we knew that was coming,’ Plumtree said. ‘That type of play on the field has got to be dealt with by the ref. There were several occasions where there was some off-ball incidents, but it’s got to be dealt with properly on the field.
‘We’ve got to be able to adjust to that as well, and I think that’s probably why you’ve got a couple of senior players in particular pretty fired up about it.’
Plumtree said the All Blacks haven’t spoken to referee Paul Williams or his assistant Angus Gardner, who is set to take charge of the second Test.
‘They see what they see, and if Paul missed stuff, then he’s missed it. But if it’s a consistent habit that he’s seeing and it’s not being looked after, then obviously we’d be disappointed. We haven’t had those conversations with the referee.
‘But it is what it is. If their intent is greater than ours around off-ball incidents, then we’ve just got to make sure we have a crack back at them.’
When asked to specify what had irritated the All Blacks, Plumtree was reluctant to go into exact detail, but hinted that flyhalf Richie Mo’unga had taken a few late tackles.
‘There were some late charges, you guys saw that,’ he said. ‘There were one or two other incidents.
‘But All Blacks don’t cry – we just get on with it, and adjust to how the game is being refereed. That’s in every department – breakdown, set piece … we have to adjust to how the game is being played.’
Ironically, the Wallabies would also have fair reason to complain about being on the wrong end of the whistle, with video replays showing that centre Reiko Ioane was in touch before the All Blacks’ first try. The All Blacks clearly also got away with an illegal steal at the breakdown, with the Wallabies near their tryline in overtime.
Photo: John Plumtree/Getty Images