A war of words is beginning to emerge.
The All Blacks have said they are unhappy with Australia’s tactics during their first Bledisloe Cup clash which finished 16-16 in Wellington.
In what was a thrilling encounter at ‘The Cake Tin’, Australia came within a whisker of snatching a rare victory on New Zealand soil but Reece Hodge’s long-range penalty at the death came back off the upright.
Australia won back possession and Dave Rennie will rue that his side didn’t go for a drop-goal. Nevertheless, a draw was probably the fairest result and it sets up Bledisloe II nicely when the All Blacks and Australia meet at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday.
Ahead of the match, former Ireland forwards coach and current All Blacks assistant coach John Plumtree hit out at the Wallabies’ tactics during their recent meeting as he takes particular umbrage with “off the ball” incidents which went unpunished by New Zealand referee Paul Williams.
“That type of play on the field has got to be dealt with by the ref,” Plumtree said. “There were several occasions where there was some off-ball incidents, but it’s got to be dealt with properly on the field.
“We’ve got to be able to adjust to that as well, and I think that’s probably why you’ve got a couple of senior players, in particular, pretty fired up about it.”
“There were some late charges, you guys saw that,” Plumtree added.
“There were one or two other incidents. But All Blacks don’t cry – we just get on with it, and adjust to how the game is being refereed. That’s in every department – breakdown, set-piece … we have to adjust to how the game is being played.”
Plumtree went as far as possible without criticising the performance of Williams and it will be interesting to see if this impacts Australian Angus Gardner who will take charge of the second test in Auckland this weekend.
“We had trust in Paul to do a good job and he went out and did his best.
“There are always going to be big talking moments in Test matches, and one of the bigger talking moments were some of the late hits and off-the-ball incidents. But we’ve seen it all before in these big Bled games, haven’t we?”
Sunday’s match kicks off at 4 am UK and Ireland time and it’s live on Sky Sports Arena. For those of you who like their sleep, the match will be replayed at 8 am on the same channel.