Final Preview: What the coaches say...

(IRB.COM) Saturday 21 June 2008
 
 Final Preview: What the coaches say...
Who will be the first name engraved on the IRB Junior World Championship trophy - England or New Zealand?

As we count down to the final of the inaugural IRB Junior World Championship, we find out what the coaches of New Zealand and England think of their tournament so far, their opponents and what rugby fans can expect when the two Under 20 sides lock horns at Swansea's Liberty Stadium.

Dave Rennie - New Zealand Co-Coach

On looking ahead to the final against England: "We're reasonably happy with the way the team's going, but England are another step up. They are a massive team physically and it will be a battle for us to get the ball we've been getting in other games. They are pretty aggressive and they shut down space quickly from the defensive point of view, so they'll be a good challenge but we've got a few strategies."

On how New Zealand and England match up: "They are probably on a par. England, physically, are probably bigger. I suppose the difference between English players is physically they are very big and this team is playing quite an open brand of footy compared to the average England side. Similarly, we want to use the ball, but they've got a lot of gas outside as we have. They've probably got bigger boys in midfield, but we rely on our skill and athleticism. Hopefully that will balance things out, but it should be an interesting encounter."

On conceding only one try en route to the final: "We haven't been exposed, to be honest. There are a couple of areas we've got to plug a few holes, even from the Welsh game. They didn't take advantage of it, but the big sides will. We're still working hard defensively, but there is a fair bit of pride on the line. The boys they bar up defensively and we are going to need all of that on Sunday."

On the spirit in the New Zealand squad: "It very much is like a family. I suppose a lot of teams talk about it but these guys are really tight. They're good mates on and off the field and it shows in their performance. They are good mates, but they will challenge each other as well. If we need to pick up in certain areas or someone is maybe not doing their bit, they've got no problem giving them a bit of a tap on the backside to get them going. They're a good bunch, they're quite mature for 19 or 20 year-olds. I think a lot of these boys have big futures and hopefully we'll see some of them running around in the World Cup in New Zealand in 2011."

Nigel Redman - England Head Coach

On whether the way to beat New Zealand is to out-muscle them in the forwards: “When we met before the tournament we always said we would have a problem-solving philosophy on our approach to the game and when the problems have come up the players are then allowed to solve them as they see fit.

“Against Australia and South Africa, the problems started up front and the players have sorted those problems out. New Zealand are an unbelievable side from one through 22, and whether it’s a forward problem or a problem with the way they play wide, we’ve got to come up with solutions and that’s how we go about the game.

“Decision-making is a fundamental part of the modern game and we allow the players to make those decisions and then we will talk about the decisions they make afterwards. The decisions they make are supported by their core skills. We encourage them to make decisions. They are not right or wrong, they are either good or better.”

On whether England's key strength is their forward play: "We have to respond to where the opposition pose the biggest threat. Now against Australia and South Africa that started and finished up front. Like most games it's won up front and the backs decide, perhaps, how many you score, that's an old saying.

"I'd be disappointed if people look at us and say we're a forward-orientated side because I really, really don't think we are. We have tremendous talent out wide, which we use, and the forwards are athletic, ball-carrying and decision-makers and it's something we work hard on."

On whether the final will be a tight contest: "I hope so. We'll go out with the intention to play. We know it's a game we have to go and win. We can't just sit back and let New Zealand run at us, otherwise it will be a long afternoon. We want to come to the final with our game intact and look to express ourselves."

On what we can expect: "They are outstanding players. They come with great pedigree. We've got some good players as well, some great players out wide, and that's what makes it a special match-up. They've got pace out wide, we've got pace out wide. They've got strong forwards, we've got strong forwards, and it's going to be one hell of a Test match."

Russel Hilton-Jones - New Zealand Co-Coach

On what he made of England's semi-final with South Africa: "We didn't get too many surprises from what we saw. We knew the English side were big and strong and powerful at set piece, we know they've got some game breakers outside and we know they're really accurate around that nine and 10 pivot, so we probably didn't learn that much."

On his expectations from England in the final: "The key with England is that they are a team that understand their role, they all clearly understand how they're meant to play the game. When you get 15 people running around a rugby field and they all understand what they are meant to do at the same time, they are going to be dangerous. It's going to be more physical, there's going to be a lot less time to make decisions on the park, a lot more pressure. We're expecting more intensity and a tougher match than we've had up to now."

On the New Zealand side: "We've got some great ball players right across the park. We've placed a lot of emphasis within this group of earning the right to move the ball wide. We've placed a lot of focus on the forwards performing their core roles well at the start of the game and during the course of the game. We want to earn the right to win quality possession and use the ball after that point rather than go lateral too early."

On their defensive record in the tournament so far: "We place a lot of emphasis on it [defence]. For us a lot of it is attitudinal. We're confident in our structures and systems, but a lot of it is around desire and the desire often indicates the character of the team. Teams that defend well often have good character and that's a key emphasis for us."

**Listen to live match commentary of the third place play-off between Wales and South Africa from 17:00 UK time and the Final between New Zealand and England from 19:00 on Sunday, 22 June on this website!**

**Finals day tickets are on sale at just £2 for children and £8 for adults. Fans are advised to purchase tickets for the Liberty Stadium finals day well in advance of kick-off. The Liberty Stadium Box Office is open Friday until 6pm, Saturday 10am – 4pm and from 12 noon on Sunday. Fans can also pre-book by calling 08700 400 004.**