Rugby Championship News

Game McAlister not holding back





New Zealand second five-eighth Luke McAlister has vowed to raise his game ahead of the Bledisloe Cup and Tri-Nations showdown with Australia at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

McAlister, who alongside Isaia Toeava is hoping to get the nod for this year’s Rugby World Cup, struggled to contain Australia dangerman Stirling Mortlock in last month’s 15-20 defeat in Melbourne.

Now, with Aaron Mauger and Conrad Smith tipped to be the first-choice at numbers 12 and 13 in France, McAlister is keen to atone for his errors and improve his standing in the pecking order with a fine performance against the Aussies.

“They (Australia) have every right to be able to talk it up,” McAlister told The Christchurch Press.

“They have walked the walk and can talk the talk. We have got to stand up, me and ‘Ice’ (Toeava). They are probably going to target us as a midfield and look at us as the young guys.

“But we are not going to take one step back. We are going to give it our best and hopefully we can compete with them and better them.”

However, All Blacks backline coach Wayne Smith admitted his namesake would be a likely starter after impressing on last year’s European tour.

The Wellington midfielder has endured a run of poor fortune since his showings against Wales and France.

“Lack of matchplay can be fixed pretty quickly and there are plans in place to do that,” said the elder Smith.

“He was considered a really influential person on our tour last year. We have a lot of faith in him.

“He was a key component on our end of year tour. He played in Lyon and Cardiff which were both pretty good performances and big victories.

“He was coming into the season probably as our number one. He hasn’t had an opportunity yet to prove that and there is a lot of competition now from Isaia, who has played really well.

“I think it’s a healthy position to be in. Conrad needs to get some football now and I’m sure he will make his mark when he gets his opportunity.”
365 Digital

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.