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TOMORROW JUN 21 MONDAY
Temperatures at Lake
Tekapo fell to a very chilly
-1 5 .6 degrees, equalling
the record June minimum
air temperature. Manorburn
Dam (in Central Otago) also
recorded an air temperature
of -15 .6 degrees on June
TODAY IN HISTORY
of the New Zealand Herald
If tomorrow morning’s World
Rugby Under 20 Championship
final comes down to goalkicking,
New Zealand should be well
equipped against England.
First five Otere Black has
slotted 13 from 14, striking
the ball nicely, while Mitch
Hunt, who should be named at
fullback, has 10 from 13. Black
also kicked seven from nine for
the Hurricanes, so is in prime
“It ’s going alright. I work at it
pretty hard and it’s part of my
role,” Black said. In the back of
his mind, he knows that next
week he will be in the thick of
preparation for a home Super
Rugby semi-final, but for now
there is some global silver ware to
strike for, a trophy New Zealand
has not won since 2011.
“I’ve got another job to do after
this. It would be pretty cool to
have a win here and then come
away with a Super Rugby title.
But for now I am solely focused
on this game.”
New Zealand have built nicely
through the tournament, giving
their best display in the 45-7
semi-final win over France.
“The camp was pretty happy
after that semi. We knew we
were building into something
after the (25-3) Ireland game
after that hiccup against
Argentina. I think we’re peaking
at the tight time. We’re looking
forward to the final. We’ ll
prepare well and it’ll be all go for
Saturday night,” Black said.
New Zealand will not have to
tweak too much for England.
They know England will present
a solid set-piece and a slightly
bigger pack, but a repeat of the
effort against France is called for.
“They are a really physical
pack and bullied those South
Africans. But our for wards have
worked hard and should be able
to match that,” Black said.
Assistant coach Leon
MacDonald was “rapt” with
the semifinal victory, but knows
more will be needed to subdue
“They were a very good side
and we nullified their strengths
and didn’t let them play their
game. We wore them down. A
lot of our tries were off the back
of very defence.
“ We turned them over and
took a lot of satisfaction at
getting dominance in some
areas over these bigger packs,”
Most of the analysis of
England has come from their
28-20 semi-final win over South
Africa, a scoreline flattering to
the Baby Boks, rather than the
30-18 pool play loss to France.
“They fell asleep against France,
because they were impressive
in their other pool games. They
didn’t fire at all, but that was
the wake-up call they needed
because they were very good
in the semi. Their pack is big
and powerful and they have a
backline which they are prepared
to use. They play a bit more
rugby than some of the other
Not to mention the fact that
several ply their trade in the
Aviva Premiership and a handful
are back to defend their title.
In New Zealand team
news, blindside flanker James
Blackwell was concussed against
France and will sit the final
out, putting further heat on the
depleted loose forward stocks.
Mitch D unshea should slot into
the No 6 jersey, with Henry
Stowers as bench back-up.
Assistant coach Tana Umaga,
the subject of speculation
surrounding the Blues, who
had returned to New Zealand
with Jerry Collins’ body, will not
return to Italy.
Kickoff is at 6.30am tomorrow
morning from Cremona.
New Zealand v England at
JWC. — 2008 (final): NZ won
38-3; 2009 (final): NZ won
44-28; 2011 (final): NZ won
33-22; 2013 (semi-final):
England won 33-21.
U20s ready for World Cup final
Travelling south to tackle the
Highlanders tonight is hardly how
Dave Rennie drew up the Chiefs’ play-
off plans. But it certainly beats the
“ We’d obviously like to be having a
week off and watching quarter-finals,”
the coach said. “But to be a part of the
play-offs is where you want to be. There’s
nine teams on the booze this week, and
we’re still going.”
The former pub owner would have
appreciated that extra revenue in a
former life but Rennie is much happier
in his current position, even if that
means meeting a team that conquered
his own on two occasions this season.
The second of those triumphs — a 36-9
drubbing in Invercargill — resembled
more of a pillaging in its brutality and
ensuring the Highlanders would enjoy
home advantage for tonight’s knockout
That is a luxury Rennie knows all too
well, after riding a Waikato Stadium
stronghold en route to a pair of titles in
his first two seasons in Hamilton. But
facing a repeat trip to the deep south
with their play-off lives on the line,
Rennie thinks little about that one-sided
affair in Invercargill will carry across to
“It probably gives them confidence
but it’s about the 80 minutes tonight,”
Rennie said. “O bviously we’re going to
have to be a bit better than we have been
over our previous encounters.”
Rennie insisted confidence would also
be the overriding feeling among his
charges, with the coach pleased about
the personnel available and assured
he possessed the gameplan needed to
turn the tables from the round robin
In part victims of their own demise
that night, the Chiefs were found
wanting in their handling and lacked
a kicking game to alleviate constant
pressure the Highlanders piled on inside
the opposition 22.
The Chiefs have overhauled their
backline in the build-up to tonight’s
showdown and, although the selection
was as much about with injuries as
anything, with players returning and
departing in equal measure, Rennie felt
his side were ready to enact a multi-
“ We just want to kick smart,” he said.
“So if it’s on to kick, we want to kick,
we’ve certainly looked at opportunities
of where we can kick, we think, and find
a bit of space.
“ We didn’t do it very well last time but
there’s no reason why we can’t do well
this week. But the key is to do it well up
front and put ourselves in the position
where we’ve got a couple of choices,
whether to carry or whether to kick.
Then it’s about playing.”
Of course, the Highlanders also hold
a handy reputation for being able to
play with ball in hand. And with a
shift indoors creating a dry ball and
an increased opportunity to unleash
their potent backline, the southern side
are hardly about precisely match the
formula that dismantled the visitors’
defence three weeks previous.
“It’ll be a bit different, I think,” Rennie
said. “No doubt they’ll kick and they ’ll
try to put a bit of pressure on us, but I
think they ’ll want to play. They play a
really up-tempo game.”
The Chiefs share that trait when
at their best and tonight’s match-up
could provide the best example yet of
the wisdom employed when erecting
the Forsyth Barr Stadium roof. Rennie
would certainly enjoy the occasion but
he was equally determined to keep his
players away from the booze for another
week, at least.
“Everyone talks about excitement, and
I am,” he said.
“There’s a bit of a spring in the step. ”
Tana Umaga has received a contract
from the Blues as John Kirwan’s
replacement but has yet to sign it.
His recent commitments and travel
arrangements have probably contributed
to Umaga’s delay. The New Zealand
Under-20s assistant coach left the
team at the World Championship in
Italy to return to Wellington with his
cousin Jerry Collins’ body and attend
his funeral, but Blues chief executive
Michael Redman and his board will
be hoping to receive something soon
because Umaga is their only option.
Umaga has not returned to Italy for
the Baby Blacks’ final against England
With only 20 players contracted for
next season, the clock is ticking for the
troubled franchise, which is pinning its
hopes on the upcoming ITM Cup for
the squad’s remaining 12 players.
After not meeting last month due
to the impasse over whether to retain
Kirwan, the board will get together
on Monday for what it hopes will be
a gathering to confirm the addition of
Umaga, who will need an assistant to
join for wards coach Glenn Moore.
It is understood that Counties
Manukau coach Umaga has told the
province’s chief executive Andrew
Maddock that he will not be returning.
Maddock yesterday did not respond to
an invitation to comment.
Yesterday ’s press conference to
announce Kirwan’s decision to step
aside, organised at short notice after he
made up his mind the day before, drew
the curtain on what the former All Black
wing called a “perfect storm” of a year.
Kirwan recounted how he walked into
the role with a light heart and his eyes
wide open after 12 years of preparing for
what he called his dream job.
Three years later, that dream is in
tatters and, in announcing his decision
to walk away, it was his first statement
that perhaps was the most significant.
“ I totally love this club and I believe
for it to succeed in the future it needs
total cohesion from all its stakeholders,”
In the end, half the board was against
Kirwan, and so were many of his players.
The bottom line was he had to go because
his message was not getting through to
the men on the field and he was not
being fully backed by his employers.
Kirwan, who presided over only two
away victories during his tenure, said
he would talk about his future with
his family, but, significantly perhaps,
coaching is not high on his agenda.
“ I’ve got to make some decisions
around that,” he said. “ I’ve got other
passions in my life and I have to take
some time out with my family. When
you do this job it’s 24/7 and it’s been
tough on them as well. I ’m just going to
take some time. Rugby is my passion, it ’s
what I do, I love it, but I’m certainly not
sure what I will do moving for ward. ”
In paying credit to his former head
coach’s contribution to the franchises,
Redman pointed to Kirwan’s off-the-
“ When he arrived here three years
ago JK had the courage to shine the
spotlight on a whole number of things in
this organisation which were in urgent
need of reform and while the playing
results under JK have not been what he
or we would like, it in no way reflects
his efforts, hard work, contribution
and determination to try to turn this
club into one which will have sustained
success,” Redman said.
Kirwan added there would be more
pain at the Blue before it got better.
That ’s not his problem any more.
After many sleepless nights this year,
the relief on his face yesterday was clear.
of the New Zealand Herald
The surprise factor in tomorrow ’s
All Black squad may be the number
of out of touch established players
who are being thrown a lifeline to
prove they still have something to
It is expected there will be new
faces — deser ved call ups for the
likes of Waisake Naholo, James
Broadhurst and Lima Sopoaga and
there could also be room for Chiefs
halfback Brad Webber, Crusaders
prop Nepo Laulala and Hurricanes
hybrid for ward Blade Thompson.
The selectors will name 41 players
and have three main aims with
their selection: to leave themselves
fully covered for the test against
Samoa when players in the Super
Rugby final won’t be available; to
build towards the World Cup and
to also have one eye on next year
when a number of senior players
will have left or retired and a few
others are likely to be playing
The selectors are also likely to
reveal they are keeping the World
Cup door open for injured hooker
Nathan Harris. The 24-year-old
has not played since damaging his
ankle against the USA last year but
if he can prove his fitness before the
end of August, he could still find
himself on the plane to England.
That same door is also going to
be held open for Cory Jane, Israel
Dagg and Charles Piutau.
All have been affected by injury
this year and delivered precious
little good rugby — but all are
expected to make the 41-man
squad and be given the chance to
rediscover their form.
Head coach Steve Hansen has not
shown a willingness in the past to
drop established All Blacks on the
basis they have either been injured
or have not played well in Super
Jane, Dagg and Piutau will be
given game time over the next eight
weeks to see if they can play their
way into form and convince the
selectors they are still international-
Being patient has worked well
for Hansen in the past. In 2013,
he was loyal to Aaron Smith who
was horribly out of sorts in Super
A few weeks with the All Blacks
and Smith was transformed, which
was much the same for Ma’a Nonu
It will not be lost on Jane that
he was in a similar position ahead
of the last World Cup. He was a
shadow of his usual self throughout
Super Rugby and was only with the
All Blacks in the pre-tournament
tests because of injury to others.
Presented with half a chance,
though, he took it and went on to
be one of the stars of the World
Todd may come into the slightly
fortunate category too and be
named in the 41 ahead of the in-
form Ardie Savea. Todd was ranked
number three openside behind
Richie McCaw and Sam Cane last
Savea may have gone past him but
the selectors will be happy to let the
latter continue his development in
the play-offs with the Hurricanes
while they take a closer look at
the former before reaching that
Hika Elliot could be another with
a claim to feeling a little put out.
The Chiefs hooker has been the
form No 2 in New Zealand but
might find himself picked for the
New Zealand Maori rather than
the All Blacks.
Again, though, the World Cup
door is not shut to him as if Harris
cannot prove his fitness, Elliot may
be the man the All Blacks call up.
Charlie Faumuina’s future is a
little uncertain as he is expected
to have further scans on his neck
this week to determine whether he
needs surgery. If he does, then he’ll
almost certainly miss the World
to put faith in
Cheifs’ coach where he wants to be
Umaga keeps Blues waiting
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