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Richie McCaw competing for possession at the tackle area

Photo: Getty Images

Flankers are all-round contributors, adding value to the scrum and lineout, and dynamism in the loose, moving play forward and ensuring continuity.  Pace, strength, power and handling skills are crucial to a player who plays on the margins.

In open play a flanker should be in support when attacking, a competent ball-carrier and first to the breakdown to win possession.  Likewise in defence, flankers should pressure the opposition backs and compete at the breakdown to steal or disrupt possession. 

At scrums and lineouts, flankers play supporting roles, pushing and lifting or jumping respectively.  When these restarts are complete, flankers should be first away to support the attack or tackle the opposition midfield runners. 

Practices should include: 

  • Scrummaging ­– individual and collective practice on flat-backed, dynamic driving position, with power from legs
  • Scrummaging – awareness of back row ploys and moves, and opposition movements
  • Lineout – jumping, lifting and protecting, and awareness of backline movements
  • Open Play ­– running moves with backs and No. 8 to learn timing and alignment, support play and decisions at the contact area
  • Open Play – playing the ball before, during and after contact, and playing the ball off the floor

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