1998 - New Zealand

From the coach ........ This tour proved to be an excellent experience for myself- I enjoyed the challenge of moulding together a team from different playing backgrounds to play against a player in another country. My task was made easier with the quality of player and the support from the manager and trainer. The tour contained many pleasing aspects from both football and social point of view. This report focuses on the football aspects. Training camp - Narrabeen 25th September-27

With poor weather delaying many flights, our first training session was pushed back to late afternoon. This session consisted of an elementary skills session followed by a very intense and mentally demanding physical session. Most players found it extremely

hard and quite distressing. This however formed the tone for following training sessions and a base which enabled our team to bond strongly throughout the tour.The early sessions were used to assess individual skills and introduce team plays and game plans. This was kept at a very basic level. Throughout the camp more complex plays and patterns were introduced after near mastery was achieved. The players were reasonably fatigued by the end of the camp but the improvement as a team was well worth it. The team trainings would be tapered to freshen up before the first game.

Some players reported to training camp with worrying injuries. It was decided after medical advice that they weren't serious enough to rule them out of the tour. It did disrupt our preparations and the performance level of the players involved.

Narrabeen was an excellent facility. Except for the unevenness of the training surface everything was first rate. lt proved to be a valuable site for our pre-tour camp. I was extremely pleased with our progression through training camp. It was a good preparation
for the tour ahead.

MATCH REPORTS FROM THE COACH Our first game together was somewhat disorganised at times which led to turnovers. As the game progressed our completion rate improved. Auckland were a strong side which pressured our defensive line with the aid of a lop sided penalty count. As expected their forwards were big and strong. This proved a good lead up to our approaching First Test. Positives from the game were our excellent support play and our zone defence. At times our defence had to work for three or four sets in a row. This meant our communication and concentration was tested which we handled very well. Our major problem in defence was shutting down the ball and putting the man on the ground. This would be one area to work on before the Test. We will also adjust our defensive pattern as the Kiwis are very structured and play tight in the early rucks. The change in Replacement rules proved difficult for our forwards. They were used to unlimited interchange.

which was not the case in New Zealand. They had to adjust both physically and mentally to the different energy demands. The different scrum interpretations left us exposed when we fed the ball. This is another area where we will have to work very hard on. It has more to do with the timing of the feed to put the Kiwis off their push rather than on our own scrum. We were always in control of the match and for our first game together I was pleased with the performance.

FIRST TEST VS NEW ZEALAND SCHOOLBOYS 4TH OCTOBER This was a very physical game. We were determined to match the Kiwis in this area and play with more intensity, which we did extremely well. Our combinations and team play (except for a ten minute period late in the first half) were excellent. We played a

good team game and we played with great commitment. The Kiwis were a strong side with many fine attacking players. It was a tribute to our defence to limit them to just two tries. Our marker defence was not up to scratch and the Kiwi wingers exploited this with good yards from dummy half. Outside of this the defensive pattern we employed was extremely effective and our backs received quick service which placed a great deal of pressure on their outside defence.

Our kicking game was exceptional. The use of many kicking options gave our kicker plenty of time. Every defensive and attacking kick was first rate. The kick chase was up to the same standard. The confidence in our team was extremely high. We needed to make a few adjustments but our main aim was to stay healthy and mentally focused.

Some of our players had been fairly sick and a few injuries were beginning to. take their toll. It was a super feeling to win a test match on foreign soil. The Kiwi opposition and spectators were very impressed. We had a lot of positive feedback. We were also getting a few spectators to our training sessions which was a bit of a buzz for the players.

SECOND TEST VS NEW ZEALAND SCHOOLBOYS 8th OCTOBER Our build up for this test was fairly disrupted. Staying another three days in sub- standard accommodation and transferring back to Auckland the day before the test was hardly ideal but the training was still good and the boys remained focused.

Although we won the first test we still adjusted our game plan in a number of area o improve even further. e changed our marker defence to split and hold which shut down their dummy half runners. We concentrated on more second phase play to move their solid defensive line around more. This proved very effective as the Kiwis didn't adjust laterally very well. Again our support play and commitment in defence was superb. New Zealand's only try came from a dropped ball giving their winger an open passage to the try line. The most pleasing aspect was that for the third game in a row we improved.

We played exceptionally well and the Kiwi management and supporters were again very impressed with our performance.

ASSRL V AUCKLAND INVITATION 18s 10th OCTOBER The scheduling of this game was inappropriate but as the tour itself was in some doubt we didn't have a great deal of choice in the matter. To have a match just 48 hours after the final test and at the end of the tour was not ideal by any means. Although the three players who didn't play in the tests started it still meant the rest had to back up. Many were carrying injuries and everyone was extremely fatigued. The Auckland side contained players well over 18 years of age and this was very disappointing. The refereeing also played a major role in our eventual defeat. Apart from this we were into the game keen to remain unbeaten. The team changes led to a few turnovers which did not help our performance. Our defence was continually going backwards due to some amazing refereeing decisions. Our players didn't react well to the ref and this didn't help our cause. We did play well in patches and still just went down 26-22.With a limited amount of ball throughout the game we struggled. In the end the fatigue factor made the difference.

One would like to acknowledge the support that our executive has provided. It was obvious- that this tour would not have gone ahead if it wasn't for their efforts. Circumstances were very difficult and I would like to thank Bruce Wallace, Kevin Sharp, Brian Pearson and Phil Beecher for their time and efforts.

Finally the support I received from manager Michael Fischer and trainer Peter Sinclair was outstanding. Their expertise and professionalism played a major role in the success of the tour. lt was a great honour to represent my country.1 enjoyed the tour immensely and consider myself very fortunate to be entrusted with the position by our organisation.
- Mark Greer

Game 1 v Auckland Secondary Schools, Wednesday 30th September, Carlaw Park, 7:3OPM Australia 44 d Auckland SS 10
Australia: Riddell 2, Gasnier 2, Harrison, Russo, Muckert, Kite tries; Burt 4 goals, Riddell 7 goals. (Half time 22-4)
Players' Player: Mark Riddell (8 votes)
Game 2 v New Zealand Secondary Schools, Sunday 4th October, Puketewhero Pk,Rotorua, 3:00pm Australia 30 d New Zealand 12
Australia: Beckett 2, Finch, Branighan, Muckert, Russo tries; Burt 3 goals (Half time Australia 14 -6)
Players' Player: Ashley Harrison (6 votes)
Game 3 v New Zealand Secondary Schools, Thursday 8th October,Waikakei Stadium,Auckland, 4:00 pm Australia 42 d New Zealand 6
Australia: Gasnier 2, Burt 2, Estatheo, Riddell, Russo tries; Burt 6 goals, Jeffries goal.
Players' Player: Terry Martin (12 votes)
Game 4: v Auckland Invitational XIII Under 18s, Saturday 10th October, Carlaw Pk, Auckland, 7:00 pm. Auckland XIII 26 d Australia 22
Australia: Gasnier 2, Beckett, Rowbotham tries; Burt 3 goals
Players' Player: Michael Ryan (6 votes)
Tour Scoring Summary Tries: Gasnier 6; Beckett 3; Riddell 3; Russo 3; Burt 2; Muckert 2; Branighan 1; Estatheo 1; Finch 1; Harrison 1; Kite 1; Rowbotham 1.
Goals: Burt 16; Riddell 2; Jeffries 1


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