It’s been a long time since we’ve had a serious All Black trial match, exception being the North versus South back in 2020. Until they revive these types of matches we have to look upon Super Rugby for our All Black selection answers.
The bulk of the Crusaders squad is made up of All Blacks, so it’s of no surprise its had a direct influence on their success over the years. Now the Blues are making a strong revival, including an exciting win over the Crusaders at Orangetheory Stadium. The Auckland team hasn’t had much fortune down in Christchurch over the past few decades. Yet the big question still remains! Are the Blues now the real deal? Are we truly witnessing a transition of power South to North? Or is this just another false dawn?
One thing for sure! The Blues & the Crusaders are the best Super Rugby teams within New Zealand. So, one can only assume that the Blues and the Crusaders will make up the majority of the All Blacks selection? Right? While the rest of the All Black squad is sprinkled with Chiefs, Hurricanes and Highlanders.
As we reach the Trans Tasman point of the competition a few situations have evolved that might influence the All Blacks. One being the curious case of Jordie Barrett at 12. If we look back to 2021 the preferred option at 12 was David Havili. However the Crusaders game against the Hurricanes in Round 8 saw David Havili vs Jordie Barrett. What this matchup highlighted was the lack of power and impact All Black David Havili has when an opposition applies enough defense pressure. Jordie Barrett was able to dominate Havili very easily by winning the collisions and creating opportunities, forcing David Havili into defensive mistakes. Not to mention Jordie’s ability to fall back and help clean up opposition kicks with his quality exit strategy.
Sam Cane. The All Black captain has now been involved in two loses at the Waikato Chiefs home ground. The worse case scenario for the Chiefs was losing to the Blues without notching a single point! This is a phenomenon for any New Zealand team. The concerning aspects about Sam Cane was his lack of influence and leadership during that Round 8 match. Also being clearly dominated at the rucks and physically being removed at the breakdowns by Dalton Papalii. To add insult to injury Sam Cane was penalised for not releasing and rolling away. Dalton Papalii was by far the superior player, not only can Dalton Papalii play at openside or blindside he has the potential to play at number 8. Dalton is only 24 but has all the characteristics of a great leader and at some stage a great All Black captain. This is just a couple examples of All Blacks who are under pressure.
Finlay Christie is also pushing players like TJ Perenara out of contention. Simply because Finley is offering more, he adds aggressive defence pressure on opposition, while firing accurate high tempo ball delivery. Finley Christie isn’t afraid to have a go. More importantly from an All Black point of view, Finley creates another attacking option that the All Blacks have been desperately needing.
Another issue that could become problematic for the All Blacks.. Who is the third option at 10? Barrett & Mo’unga and who? What if we have another 2011 scenario! Losing not just our starting 10 but the second and third options. Then what!
In the meantime, here’s some ideas of what the All Blacks could look like 2022/23.
1- Joe Moody/Ethan de Groot
2- Cody Taylor/Asafo Aumua
3- Ofa Tuungafasi/ Nepo Laulala
4- Scott Barrett/ Retallick/Luke Romano
5- Tupou Vaa’i / Whitelock/Zach Gallagher
6- Ethan Blackadder
7- Dalton Papalii/ Sam Cane
8- Ardie Savea/Hoskins Sotutu/Pita Gus Sowakula
9- Aaron Smith/ Finlay Christie/ Folau Fakatava
10- Beauden Barrett/ Richie Mo’unga.
11- Sevu Reece/ Leicester Fainga'anuku
12- Jordie Barrett/Anton Lienert-Brown/Thomas Umaga-Jensen
13- Rieko Ioane/Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
14- Calab Clarke/Julian Savea
15- Will Jordan