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Geoff Parling on the secrets of a line-out
England’s line-out was exceptional in the first Test against New Zealand in Auckland, with a 100% success rate in the 20-15 defeat at Eden Park.
Second row Geoff Parling was the man charged with ensuring England’s set-piece ran efficiently and will do so again for the second Test in Dunedin. He explains all on how to run a line-out like clockwork.
Getting a line-out right isn’t quite as simple as throwing the ball to the tall bloke in the middle. It might look like that but I can promise you there’s more to it…
So where do you start? You have your basic structure of the thrower, the jumper and the lifters.
A lot of the art of the line-out is co-ordinating it all that so it works smoothly under the pressure of a match situation, when your opponents are doing everything they can to stop you.
You have quite a few calls to choose from but you don’t want too many. One aspect people might not realise is the player calling the line-out will work closely with the fly-half.
The number 10 is normally the one calling the plays so you’ll be constantly talking about whether he wants ball ‘off the top’ or driven, from the front, the middle or the back of the line- out.
There’s a bit of everything that goes into your decision when you’re making the calls. For me, the match situation is the main thing because you’ve got to be able to react to what’s going on out on the pitch and not stick rigidly to a pre-arranged plan if it’s not working.
From the scoreline, where you are on the pitch, what the opposition are up to – a lot of it comes down to experience.
I don’t think I’ve ever forgotten the line-out codes. At this level you’ve got to know your stuff.
And it’s not just the guy calling the line-out – everyone involved has to know it. If one guy doesn’t know a call then the whole thing gets messed up. So all eight players have got to know what’s going on and work in unison.
We want to get it right every single time and there are times where it doesn’t work as well as we would’ve liked.
If you look at most international games you’re probably looking at teams winning about 90% of their ball but we want to be perfect; we wouldn’t be happy if we lost only one throw in a game.
But it’s not just winning the line-out for the sake of the statistics – it’s about the quality of the delivery and what you do off that ball, whether you’re playing off the top or whether you get a good drive on.
Ultimately, that’s what winning a line-out is for.
The All Blacks’ set-piece is one of the best in the world. They’re very well-organised and are very switched on, so we’re expecting a hard contest.
Get behind-the-scenes news from Geoff Parling and his England team-mates on tour in New Zealand with Player Diary from O2 in partnership with England Rugby, at www.O2InsideLine.com