All Blacks prop Ben Franks says they are putting extra effort into scrum training as they head towards the World Cup play-offs, after being taught a lesson by Georgia.
They are expecting similar treatment from Tonga, who they play in Newcastle on Friday, believing the islanders will have picked up some tips from watching the powerful Georgian pack ply their trade.
“Our trainings are some of the hardest trainings in my time in the All Blacks,” said Franks, who has played 44 Tests since 2008 and joins London Irish after the World Cup.
“In New Zealand you’re in your own little bubble a little bit. You play South Africa, Australia, Super rugby, Rugby Championship, Argentina now as they’ve come in.
“We don’t really get exposed to the type of scrummaging and tactics like Georgia. To get the opportunity to play such teams in our pool matches we get to learn lessons before encountering it in the quarter-final.
“If we go further in the competition we’ll be able to bank on some of those lessons.”
There were times when the All Blacks pack wobbled against Georgia which they will have to sort out once they enter the sudden death phase.
The Australian scrum was exceptional when they knocked England out of the World Cup, a point noted by All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith.
“Australia’s scrum was probably the biggest thing,” he said.
“Seeing what they did to England was massive. They looked really clinical and they’re looking really good.”
Charlie Faumuina, who started in the front row against Georgia, said the All Blacks had to learn how to adjust their game immediately they are under pressure.
“We’ve just got to adapt a bit quicker. I think they tried a few things and we were slow to adapt.
“You train for it throughout the week and if it’s going the way you’ve been training then hopefully you’ve got the tools to stop it. But there’s a few tricks up every props sleeve.”
The All Blacks specialist scrum coach Mike Cron rates the Georgian scrum as one of the best in the tournament which made assistant coach Ian Foster pleased with the way their pack handled the pressure.
“Particularly on our ball it was excellent. we got a couple of set piece tries, went really good, and clearly they had a couple of little victories on their ball and apparently we’re going to learn and adapt.
“Tonga are going to again bring a hard physicality to us. They’ll probably try to do some things to us that we think some other teams might do to us later on so it’s good preparation.”