All Blacks could hit England with power rugby, predicts Chiefs boss

All Blacks Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane and Hoskins Sotutu (from left) celebrate the Auckland Blues win in the Super Rugby final (MICHAEL BRADLEY)
All Blacks Akira Ioane, Rieko Ioane and Hoskins Sotutu (from left) celebrate the Auckland Blues win in the Super Rugby final (MICHAEL BRADLEY)

The All Blacks could unleash forward-based power rugby on England in next month's Test series, the Waikato Chiefs coach has predicted after the Auckland Blues thumped his team in the Super Rugby final with a similar style of play.

Forward power and reducing risk have been the hallmark of the Blues during the Super Rugby season, culminating in Saturday's 41-10 dismantling of the Chiefs in a one-sided final at Eden Park.

New Zealand's Super Rugby teams traditionally show a willingness to play expansive rugby, a style which translates into an attack-minded approach from the All Blacks.

However, the Blues have relied on close driving play this year and the use of one-off runners to pound opponents into submission.

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan, whose team were forced to make more than 250 tackles in the final, said the Blues' dominance may force a tactical rethink from new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson.

New Zealand will name a 32-man squad on Monday for the two-Test home series against England, in Dunedin on July 6 and at Auckland's Eden Park the following week.

"It's going to be interesting to see how the All Blacks go, because this (playing style) is kind of something new for New Zealand, isn't it?" McMillan told reporters.

"We haven't really seen a team do that. It's probably going a little bit away from the DNA of All Black rugby.

South Africa won the Rugby World Cup last year by also relying heavily on their forward pack.

"We know that the South Africans and some of the teams up north are a little bit more direct," McMillan added.

"I guess the key will be understanding whether we have the athletes to play that at international level."

Blues coach Vern Cotter admitted it took time to embed a conservative style at a Blues team full of players who had built reputations on expansive play.

The process began in the pre-season and the players slowly brought into quelling their habits.

"As you can imagine, it probably wasn't assimilated straight away, and that's just natural," Cotter said.

"The guys were used to playing one way and we just changed that.

"It was just getting the All Blacks players to understand as they filtered back into the team. They've picked it up and run with it."

Cotter, who had previously coached the national Scotland and Fiji teams, became the fifth man to lift a title in his first season as a Super Rugby head coach.

He joins an illustrious all-New Zealand list comprising Graham Henry (Blues, 1996), Robbie Deans (Canterbury Crusaders, 2000), Dave Rennie (Chiefs, 2012) and Scott Robertson (Crusaders, 2017).