Mitchell wants forwards out of backline

Date published: October 15 2015

Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell feels that the team's attacking prowess has been significantly hindered by the presence of too many forwards in the backline.

Mitchell said the All Blacks have an immensely talented backline – something which has been witnessed throughout the past four years. However, he also feels that its potential has been stifled by the team's tactical approach.

"[The All Blacks] have demonstrated over the past four years that they are the best side in the world at getting the ball wide into space," said Mitchell, in a column he wrote for ESPN Scrum this week.

"At the moment, however, there are too many forwards involved in the back-line attack, which is cramming up the space for their wonderfully gifted outside backs.

"The All Blacks need to create more one-on-one situations. From a professional coaching perspective, I'd like to see the forwards punch more on the advantage line in order to create quicker ball from wider rucks," continued Mitchell.

However, that was not the only concern that Mitchell had, ahead of the team's highly anticipated World Cup quarter-final against France this weekend.

"One of the issues is that Daniel Carter stands flat all the time rather than adjusting his depth when the ball is slower, because he has lost a bit of pace," said Mitchell.

"The All Blacks also need the likes of Owen Franks, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read, Conrad Smith and Ben Smith to step up in the play-offs, because they haven't been in great form recently."

Mitchell does take solace from the fact that France have not been particularly outstanding during the current World Cup campaign but warns that the All Blacks simply can't afford to be in any way complacent ahead of this match.

"But this is the World Cup and history shows they can lift themselves for a big playoff fixture, especially one against New Zealand," he added.

"The All Blacks will be well aware of that and won't underestimate them at all."