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Premiership Rugby

Woodward now a convert to decoy-runners

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Woodward has been a well-known opponent of the midfield practice in the past, highlighting Australia's supposedly borderline use of the tactic ahead of their meeting last November, with the Wallabies walking a thin line in terms of the obstruction laws according to the coach.

But having had his fingers burnt in the past by teams using decoy-runners, Woodward insists that his charges have learnt their lesson, and that with Australian Stuart Dickinson in charge of the Test, liberal southern hemisphere interpretations of the law will be utilised to the full.

Questioned on whether he would highlight the issue with Dickinson in their pre-match meeting, Woodward referred to the teams' clash earlier this season, stating: "No, down this part of the world, it is allowed, we just got caught last year.

"It was not a case of whingeing after the game, but I wanted to show the media that there is a difference in interpretation.

"We were caught badly letting in two soft tries, but we know it's allowed down here, and we will do similar things."

Speaking on his Friday meeting with referee Dickinson, Woodward added: "It's critical, we know Stuart Dickinson well, we also tell him what we want to do.

"They [referees] have all got strengths and weaknesses like we all do, you have to adapt your team accordingly in the 24 hours before the game. He usually gets instructions from the IRB to tighten up in certain aspects, its always a very good meeting."

On the intense pre-match fervour in the press, the coach stated: "The build-up has been the most intense I have ever seen being away from home.

"The media is just so behind their own team, it's just different media reporting, there is just no question of the All Blacks losing this game tomorrow night. But we will do our talking on the pitch."

By Mark Smith

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