ABs seeking 'smarter' scrum
Wellington - All Blacks scrum guru Mike Cron wants "smarter" play from the New Zealand pack, advising his players to tone down their aggression in the final Rugby World Cup pool game against Canada.
Cron rated the New Zealand scrum's performance in the 37-17 win over France last weekend as "a reasonable game, not great" but said his charges were improving as the tournament progressed.
"We're ticking away, each week we're getting a bit better," he told reporters.
"We're pretty positive about it actually, managing to get the boys in a few different combinations and they're all carrying themselves well. No injuries, which is great."
Cron said while he had been impressed with the scrummaging skills of so-called minnow nations at this year's tournament, it was hard for a dominant pack such as New Zealand's to avoid penalties against weaker opposition.
He said the New Zealanders needed to ensure their scrum was "squeaky clean, (had) great technique and take the decision making away from the referee".
"We've probably been guilty earlier in the campaign of being just a fraction too aggressive and it ends up in a collapse and a penalty against you," he said.
"So we've got to be smarter, which I think we will be."
Cron, who will leave the All Blacks coaching set-up after the World Cup to concentrate on junior development, said he had a unique insight into Canada's scrum after coaching them for a week earlier this year.
He said the Canadians were "going pretty good" after defeating Tonga and drawing with Japan.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how they go (against New Zealand on Sunday)," he said.
"I'm sure they'll acquit themselves well."
Long regarded as one of the world's leading scrum experts, Cron said he expected more than brute force from the New Zealand pack.
"We want these front rowers in New Zealand to be special creatures, where they're like flankers in general play but they do their set piece 100 percent correctly," he said.
"We're continually working on our skills, not just set piece, and I think that sets us aside from some of the other teams."
He was reluctant to comment on France's scrummaging woes against New Zealand, saying "there's a funny respect among the front row fraternity, we'd never, ever, put another front row down".
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