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Sport

Breakdancing coach Robertson injects new energy to All Blacks

todayJuly 3, 2024 4

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Senior All Blacks are enjoying the energy brought by new head honcho Scott Robertson — the surfing, breakdancing, maverick coach who faces his first Test in charge against England on Saturday.

The man nicknamed “Razor” has inherited a New Zealand side criticised for a lack of innovation under maligned predecessor Ian Foster.

Lock Patrick Tuipulotu said Robertson had energised the squad since they gathered in Wellington last week.

“First word that comes to mind is probably ‘energy’. I think that’s good for this team,” said Tuipulotu.

“He knows what he wants and certainly brings that to the forefront, especially in the meeting room.

“You don’t have many guys falling asleep when he’s up there presenting to us.”

New Zealand open their international season with the first of two Tests against England in Dunedin on Saturday, the All Blacks’ first outing since narrowly losing the World Cup final to South Africa in October.

“It’s inevitable when you change personnel, you have different approaches and different ways of thinking,” said centre Jordie Barrett.

“You’re seeing guys having to relearn some terms, but it’s exciting, a fresh change and the boys are looking forward to what’s ahead.”

The All Blacks have lost some big names since the Rugby World Cup.

Playmaker Richie Mo’unga, one of Robertson’s key lieutenants when he coached Canterbury Crusaders, is now playing in Japan.

Veteran forward Sam Whitelock, who also played under Robertson at Canterbury, has retired after 153 Tests.

Robertson has named lock Scott Barrett as captain in place of the injured Sam Cane. Loose forward Ardie Savea and Barrett’s brother Jordie are the side’s vice-captains.

With a mop of blond hair, Robertson is a far cry from the taciturn All Blacks coaches of seasons past.

It is not unusual to see him skateboarding to the beach with a surfboard tucked under his arm near his South Island home.

He famously celebrated the Crusaders’ run of Super Rugby titles by breakdancing on the pitch.

“We’re going to have some fun, still be professional and set a really high expectation of ourselves, but do it with a smile on our faces,” Robertson said.

As a player Robertson was a loose forward He won 23 caps for New Zealand between 1998 and 2002 and was dubbed Razor for the way he scythed down opponents in the tackle.

His record as a coach is also sharp — he led Canterbury Crusaders to seven straight Super Rugby titles.

Robertson’s critics point to his lack of experience at international level.

He coached the Barbarians to victory against a shadow All Blacks XV in late 2022 and helped New Zealand’s juniors win the World Under-20 title in 2015.

Scott Hansen, one of Robertson’s assistant coaches with both the Crusaders and now New Zealand, said he had seen one key change of late.

“In all my time with Razor, I have never seen him wear a watch, but he wears one now,” said Hansen, hinting that Robertson was less laid back about running late.

“Have I seen a change in him? He just keeps getting better. There’s a lot of colour, a lot of energy.”

ryj/sft/dh

AFP

(NAMPA / AFP)

Written by: Staff Writer

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