Cardiff Blues flanker, Martyn Williams believes having a destructive scrum has never been more important than it is this season, with the new ELVs arriving in the northern hemisphere.
The Wales and Lions forward explains in the new edition of Rugby World magazine: The big one for the back row is the five-metre offside line at the scrum. In the Tri-Nations games, if they had a fairly solid scrum it was impossible to stop people on the gain-line so it should form a good basis for our attacking game, but on the reverse side youve got to think of a way to defend it.
You also dont have to have the same numbers in the lineout and again youve got to figure out how to defend the ball there. South Africa have had a lot of three-man lineouts, but then not many people can match them in that area! There are different things you could do. Im not a lineout expert Ill leave that to the Paul Titos of this world but it will be interesting to see what sides do. Do you defend three on three or get the numbers in there? Even with this coming in I dont think there will be a drastic change.
There have been a lot of tap-and-gos in the southern hemisphere because of the short-arm penalties, but weve still got the full penalty so it wont be that different. The Tri-Nations games have been brilliant to watch and if that can be replicated here, well see quality games in the northern hemisphere. Williams also revealed that the players had been put through the mill in the run-up to the new campaign adding: Pre-season is always hard and every year is different. When I started playing there was a lot of long-distance running on the athletics track 800m, 1,000m. It was 30 to 40 minutes of running. Now we do a lot of power-based stuff short, sharp, intensity work. Theres no short cut and its a lot of hard work, but its all preparation for the season.
Weve got a few new coaches at the Blues, too. Justin [Burnell, forwards coach] and Gareth [Baber, skills coach] have gone through the system with the academy, and with Rob Howley going to the national set-up full-time, weve brought in Billy Millard as backs coach. Hes a typical Aussie, really innovative, and he reminds me of Scott Johnson. Hes just added a few different plans. Our attack was quite good last year so hes not made wholesale changes, hes just tinkered a few things. Its a good blend and weve now got an extra coach out on the field compared to last year. Its beneficial having Gareth just focusing on skills. There havent been a huge lot of changes in the squad only Aled Brew, Ceri Sweeney and Richard Mustoe have come in so we wont have a problem with players trying to gel. Right through the side now in each position weve got two easily first-choice players. Thats the way the game is going these days. You cant play week in, week out so you need two in every position. At fly-half weve got three Ceri, Nicky Robinson and Dai Flanagan, who got us out of our group in Europe last season. Thats what you need: strength in depth.
And he also commented on the new skipper at the Arms Park. Paul Tito has been named Blues captain and I think its a really good decision. I was quite surprised when Rushy [Xavier Rush] came back from New Zealand in the summer and said he was stepping down. Hes an absolute top bloke and was made for the job. But hed been doing it for Auckland and then us, so it was a lot of extra weight on his shoulders and he wanted to take away the burden. Fish [Tito] has done it all before, too, as hes been captain of Wellington and the Maori. First and foremost, hes got huge respect off all the boys and thats the job half done.
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