Thursday, June 18, 2009
All Blacks need to get their minds back into test match rugby mode - ask Brad Thorn...
All Blacks need to get their minds into test match rugby mode - ask Brad Thorn...
Dual international Brad Thorn reckons the intricacies of rugby mean it's harder to get an All Blacks test team up to speed than a Kangaroos league side.
And the 34-year-old should know, having played for both teams during a stellar footballing career on either side of the Tasman.
As the All Blacks look to pick up their game after last week's ugly loss to the French in Dunedin, Thorn feels things are coming together with a bit more time under their belts.
"It's harder in rugby because there's so much technique to scrummaging, there's so much skill and technique to lineouts, cleaning rucks ... there's just so much stuff there," said Thorn who will play his 26th rugby test this weekend after representing Australia in league eight times. He also played for Queensland 14 times during career with the Brisbane Broncos that took in 200 matches.
Apart from a few stars missing through injury Thorn sees little difference to this season than his previous experiences in the black jersey. They just got exposed by a fired up French team and now they have to respond.
"It's hard to cover that all in one week and keep the boys fresh mentally. It's quite a challenge but no excuses ... the French had just finished their season, they came over and played well.
"Early last year against Ireland and England we were disappointed with some things too. It's a fairly solid process getting your game together and as the season went on the All Blacks were really humming. So hopefully we can take another step in improvement this week and get more used to playing."
The week has been an emotional rollercoaster for Thorn who celebrated the birth of his fourth child, baby daughter Niva to go with his three sons.
"I might have to sign a contract for another five years to feed them," said the big lock.
Now he's got to knuckle down and get ready for the challenge of facing a fired up French side where his personal marker will be Sebastien Chabal. That individual tussle should be one of the highlights.
"There always seems to be quite a bit of hype around him ... the flash hairstyle and beard really are part of the package and he gives 100 percent," Thorn noted of the controversial Frenchman.
"He looks a pretty sharp player from what I have seen. He's come along while I was playing league but he seems to have played some really good rugby for France."
But Thorn looks at the bigger picture for things to push his buttons.
"It's good having good opponents to play against to test yourself and challenge yourself. But for me the motivation is putting on the black jersey. I think that should be the same every week. That's how I feel."
He says it's the same when people start talking about these All Blacks staring at just the sixth series loss on home soil if they get tipped over again. That was news to him.
"You can think about that stuff but I just think it shouldn't matter who you are playing, when you are playing or whatever, you put your body on your line, play to the last whistle and give everything you have got. Whether you win or lose you walk away knowing that you have given it your best hit."
Thorn does that with remarkable consistency. He was one of the few older hands who could walk off Carisbrook with some sense of personal satisfaction last week despite the result.
Ad Feedback And as he enters the twilight stages of his international career he has some advice to rugby's rulemakers make up your minds about the laws and stick to them.
The difficulties the All Blacks had adjusting from the ELVs was evident in the opening minutes of the Dunedin test when they failed to handle the French maul and they struggled with the tackle ball situations as well.
"I've been playing rugby for about a year and a half and before that I had three years of league so I haven't seen a maul for four or five years. Every time I did we were able to pull it down. You can't do that now.
"You can do something one week and the next week you can't. It's the same with the guy who makes the tackle.
"It felt like we improved in those areas as the game wore on but we pretty much walked straight into it.
"Hopefully the rules of rugby can find where they are at and we can move forward five, 10, 15 or 20 years with the same rules so we can enjoy it and get on with it. It would be good for the spectators and players."
Spoken like a true professional.