Don’t buy into talk that Dan Carter should be dropped, Queenstown’s ex-All Blacks coach Laurie Mains says.
Yesterday, New Zealand Herald columnist Chris Rattue called for Carter to be axed, ahead of a crucial weekend of Rugby World Cup matches which will decide the quarter-finalists.
Asked his thoughts, Mains, who took NZ to the 1995 World Cup final, gives an immediate one word response: “No.”
He’s sure the All Blacks themselves want Carter guiding them rather than anybody else.
“If you’re going to drop Dan Carter you’re going to drop another six or seven players in the All Black team, and you can’t do that.
“Dan Carter stood out a little bit because he missed a few goal kicks - but they’re things that come right overnight.
“We know he is a really good goal kicker, so one off-day doesn’t mean to say he’s lost it.”
Depending on the outcome of this weekend’s matches there could be a repeat of 2007 - a Rugby World Cup quarter-final against France at Cardiff.
That’s not something NZ wants, Mains says.
“One thing I learned about the French over my years coaching and playing is that you never quite know what team’s going to turn up.
“They’re overdue to win a World Cup.
“If they get a big game at the weekend and get confidence out of that then they could be a tough ask.”
Mains says NZ are well-placed in the tournament after topping their pool.
However, he thinks the uncharacteristic mistakes against Georgia - with average passing and handling - will worry All Blacks management.
“There just doesn’t seem to be that real urgency in their game at the moment.
“That part of it is easily fixed - the minute they come up against a big opposition then the urgency will be back in their game.
“If I was coaching the All Black team I’d be looking for considerably more this weekend than we’ve seen to date, in terms of urgency and execution of the basics.”
Mains says it’s too late to bench players to punish them for poor form.
The All Blacks need to put their best team on the park from next week - ”hopefully for three games in a row”.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen admitted the win over Georgia was ugly, but said the team was holding back for fear of showing their full hand too early in the tournament.
Mains says: “It’s quite possible there will be some moves that the All Blacks will have up their sleeve - playing ith
a lack of urgency and making mistakes is not part of their plan.”
After two “mediocre” games, Mains expects a much sharper performance against Tonga on Saturday. If that doesn’t happen there’s cause for concern, he says.
Another of the weekend’s crucial games is Australia versus Wales. Mains says Australia will be anxious to avoid a quarter-final against South Africa.