Kiwis need Benji

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Kiwis need Benji

Postby Northern_Union » Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:20 am

http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/league/857 ... -McClennan
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Former Kiwis coach Brian McClennan believes New Zealand missed the presence of star standoff Benji Marshall against Australia in last Friday's Anzac test, adding the team's kicking game needs serious improvement if they hope to defend their World Cup title later this year.

In a match of searing intensity, the Kiwis went down 32-12 to the Kangaroos in Canberra. After dominating the first 40 minutes, New Zealand backs were broken by a three-try, 11-minute blitz early in the second half.

Halfback Shaun Johnson was the Kiwis only real fifth tackle option in the encounter, with standoff Kieran Foran, fullback Josh Hoffman and hooker Issac Luke not known for their ability with the boot.

A telling example was early in the first half. The first three fifth tackle kicks by New Zealand went straight to the Australian back three, while the corresponding kicks by the Kangaroos found gaps between Hoffman, and wingers Sam Perrett and Jason Nightingale.

McClennan said the lack of options on the final tackle was telling in the defeat, saying the Kiwis missed Marshall, out with an injured toe.

"Listening to comments through media, people are saying he's going out of favour," McClennan told Sunday News.

"I understand there are some things Benji can improve on and play a bit more direct, and I think he's trying to do that with the Tigers. Unfortunately, he's got injured - but his last tackle options are very good.

"He's a lot more consistent and it will help Kieran Foran. Foran is our best half. I thought he was really good [in the test], and led the team really well. [But] we just need our last tackle option to be better.

"It's the same problems. It's a big thing we need to improve going forward for the World Cup."

McClennan, who coached the Kiwis between 2005 and 2007, said Luke, who he highlighted as New Zealand's stand-out performer, and Foran should return to their clubs and request more opportunities to kick.

At the Sea Eagles, Foran and halves partner Daly Cherry-Evans fall under the tutelage of legendary ex-halfback Andrew Johns.

"We've just got to mix it up a little bit more [with the boot]," McClennan said. "When we do that, we're going to start cooking with a bit more gas."

The former Kiwis and Warriors coach highlighted the performance of the New Zealand propping battery, aside from Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, as a huge positive.

McClennan said the cooler Canberra conditions should be a taste of what to expect at the World Cup in the United Kingdom later this year.

"It was trench warfare," he said. "It was boiler suit, as opposed to dinner suit, rugby league last night. And hence the last tackle players are so crucial.

"That's how the conditions are going to be up in England though. It's a bit of an appetiser for what's going to come at the end of the year.

"It's going to be colder, and a bit dewey. It's a little bit of an insight into how it's going to be, and for large periods of that game we were good.

"But I know [Stephen] Kearney, [Tony] Iro and the selectors won't hold onto that. They'll be on the mindset of what can we do to do better, so we can make sure we can do a good job over there."

- © Fairfax NZ News
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Re: Kiwis need Benji

Postby TerryG » Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:00 pm

Message to Bluey:

When the Tigers consistently beat Manly on both the field and the points table, then Benji will have earned back the Kiwi 5/8th jersey from Kieran Foran.

In the meantime Bluey, press statements that select a team after the game won't rehabilitate your reputation as the coach who took over a GF quality team in 2011 and nearly drove them to their first ever spoon in 2012.

:unsure:
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Re: Kiwis need Benji

Postby Northern_Union » Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:17 pm

We're at odds here on a few points Terry. First thing is that 2011 team didn't deserve to make the grand final, specially after being flogged by the Broncos in week one of the finals and then sliding past the Tigers when Inu was laying on the ground and the ball dropped into his hands. My second point is that is the players that stopped trying in 2012 and it's the same players that are for the most part playing dumb amateur footy in 2013. You can keep changing coaches until the cows come home but sooner or later the over payed under performing players have to take some responsibility for the results. And my third point is that in humble opinion the Kiwis best option is Marshal at 6 and Foran at 7.
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Re: Kiwis need Benji

Postby TerryG » Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:57 pm

Northern_Union wrote:We're at odds here on a few points Terry. First thing is that 2011 team didn't deserve to make the grand final, specially after being flogged by the Broncos in week one of the finals and then sliding past the Tigers when Inu was laying on the ground and the ball dropped into his hands. My second point is that is the players that stopped trying in 2012 and it's the same players that are for the most part playing dumb amateur footy in 2013. You can keep changing coaches until the cows come home but sooner or later the over payed under performing players have to take some responsibility for the results. And my third point is that in humble opinion the Kiwis best option is Marshal at 6 and Foran at 7.


I agree with point 1 about the Inu try in the play-off with the Tigers. I'll go through the game again tonight, but I seem to recall a commentator, possibly Sterlo, saying “if a Tigers player had put a hand of Inu when he was on the ground then Inu would have been called 'held' and then it's no try”. Tigers win. If so, a season ending error was committed by the numerous Tigs – and possibly Benji himself. I also have recollections of Benji taking wrong options at many critical moments during the game. My conclusion at the time was that neither team particularly deserved the win or to go on much further in the play-offs. But the Warriors win over Melbourne – the minor premiership winners – did impress, and I don't know the Tigers could have done that.

I've got audio of the game and most likely video, so I'll brush up and come back to you.

I agree with point 2. The players had stopped trying. Bluey had lost the sheds including Michael Luck about the same time as he made Manu Vatuvei captain...an offer which should never have been extended or accepted. Bluey blamed fitness towards the end of the season, when it was he who had relaxed the pre-season training. The issues went way beyond fitness.

Some of the recent headlines about Brit imports will aimed at emphasizing the ice is melting under the feet of the young non-performing players and I fully support that message.

I agree with point 3 that Marshal at 6 and Foran at 7 is strong and maybe even be the best halves combination when Benji is in form. But Marshal is on the outer with Kearney, hence the demotion from captain. Kearney instead seems to favour Johnson. Both BM and SJ are off their best form, but even if Kearney was neutral we're more likely to see SJ & KF rather the BM & KF because the selections are often determined by injury and 28 year old Benji will become increasingly injury prone while 22 year Foran and SJ don't have that issue yet.

There's a lot here we agree on.

:thumb:
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Re: Kiwis need Benji

Postby TerryG » Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:04 pm

Hi NU,

I've just re-watched that game. It was a lot funnier than seeing it the first time. When Inu was named instead of Joel Moon, I thought here's trouble, but the Warriors finally got the lead when Inu scored the last try in typical Inu fashion.

To be fair to Benji, he didn't completely reek. The field goal attempts before half time would have been handy but otherwise his kicking was good and he crossed the try line himself at the 20th minute.

I keep this video file as it has the last of Lance Hohaia's 185 tries for the Warriors. His experience showed when he backed himself to score from dummy half.

The Warriors v Storm final from that year is one of my go-to videos whenever the Warriors of today leave me wondering when was the last time they played some quality footy.
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Re: Kiwis need Benji

Postby Fanrrior » Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:51 am

I'd definitely have Benji in the team but only if he is willing to play second fiddle to Foran. Johnson or Leuluai (to replace Luke) can come off the bench. Playing straight and direct against Auzzie seemed to be working with our size advantage. Since Johnson and Benji tend to crab I'd prefer only having one of them on the field at the same time though.
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