All Black scrum needs work: Kieran Read

Kieran Read insists the scrum is an area New Zealand are desperate to improve on when they take on England this weekend in the third Test of their European tour.


The All Blacks’ pack was dominated by their Italian counterparts at scrum time in the dying stages of their 20-6 victory in Milan’s San Siro stadium on Saturday.


Graham Henry’s men also came off second best in that department in their 32-19 Bledisloe Cup victory over Australia in Tokyo a fortnight ago.


The set-piece is one of the few areas New Zealand have looked vulnerable in of late.

 

And although it has not stopped them building a four-match winning run, Read is aware the All Blacks‘ scrum has a point to prove.

“Every time you go into a Test match, your scrum wants to dominate,” said the Canterbury number eight, speaking at the team’s hotel on Monday.


“We probably didn’t do that last weekend so it’s another chance to do that this weekend. And it’s a pretty good England scrum we are coming up against.


“We can always strive to improve on a lot of things on our game and that’s probably one of them. I’m not sure it was a hiding (against Italy), though. There were a few decisions made around the scrum which made it difficult for our front row to operate.”


Read should return to the back row at Twickenham at the expense of Rodney So’oialo, after being one of the many frontliners rested by New Zealand’s coaches for the Italy match.


The All Blacks’ second-stringers got the job done but they failed to sparkle in front of 78,500 fans at a stadium normally reserved for football matches.


It was, however, the team’s sixth consecutive northern hemisphere Test where they have not conceded a try, and that is a source of pride for Read and his team-mates.


“That’s a big thing we have spoken about,” said the 24-year-old, dubbed by New Zealand captain Richie McCaw as a future skipper of the national team.


“It’s a great defensive effort by the guys to get to that stage in Test matches. We pride ourselves on our defence, and if we continue like that it’ll go a long way to continuing our winning run.


“It’s going pretty well at the moment,” Read added.

 

“The guys are pretty tight as a group. We’re enjoying each other’s company.

 

“But there are some big games coming up.”

 

England are in a desperate state after being booed by their own supporters during the 16-9 win over an under-strength Argentina on Saturday.

That performance came seven days after a similarly substandard display against Australia, who came away from Twickenham with an 18-9 victory and without their line close to being breached.


The pressure is mounting on England coach Martin Johnson and his team but Read dismisses any suggestion New Zealand will take the home side lightly.


“Teams that get bagged (in the press) normally come out and put in a good performance the next game so we have to be wary of that,” said Read, who came on as a second-half substitute when New Zealand thrashed England 32-6 at Twickenham last November.


“England are going to be up for it on Saturday. That’s our job – to be ready for a team that is going to come out all fired up. We have to match that.


“There is never an easy time to play England at Twickenham but especially when their backs are against the wall. They’ll be a dangerous side.”


New Zealand will name their team for the England match on Wednesday.

 

Dan Carter is set to return after serving a one-week suspension for a dangerous tackle on Martin Roberts during the 19-12 win over Wales in Cardiff on November 7.

Experienced loosehead prop Tony Woodcock is also likely to be fit after a back injury.

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