Well that was rather tragic viewing. Things that we’ve known for a while were there for all to see tonight. Having 3 opensides out there was a disaster even before Savea was forced off. They’re far too passive playing together on defence and a lack of muscle in there was evident as the Irish virtually walked up the field on attack.
Sam Cane wasn’t great out there and despite him working hard, a lot of his work was ineffective, but was still a hell of a lot more than what Papali’i produced. He was anonymous all match and certainly isn’t a starting test 6 on that evidence.
Can’t say I really noticed a lot of Ardie out there, certainly not on defence anyway. He made the odd ineffective carry. It’s a broken record, but most of us can see that he’s perfect foil for the bench. Don’t think we need to see Sowakula for the next test. He has hands like feet and not much of a rugby brain in general. He reminds me of Peter Saili with his hands, difference is, is that Saili never got close to a test jersey and rightly so.
Surely Sotutu comes in for the next test and hopefully Ioane on the side of the scrum. we need some power out there.
Don’t know why Codie Taylor seems to have a mortgage on the 2 jersey. He’s been on a steady decline for a while yet he seems to still be one of the first names of the teamsheet! Taukei’aho is well overdue to get his time as a starter now. Taylor, along with Tu’ungafasi, missed tackles and was extremely poor on the carry. Something Taukei’aho does very well with ball in hand is fight for every metre with his low centre of gravity and get you front foot ball, something that we did not get at all tonight as we had no strong ball carriers on for the first 55 minutes.
No disrespect to George Bower, he was the most effective one out there along with Barrett and it’s frustrating when we have ones sitting either on the bench or in the stands. Tu’ungafasi had a poor night and through no fault of his own, had to stay out there all game. He’s another whose best work comes from the bench which we’ll most likely see once Laulala returns.
Is Brodie Retallick’s time up? I think we all know that he isn’t the player he once was, but he was outshone by Scott Barrett tonight and with Sam Whitelock to return, is it time to put Retallick to the bench or even start to bring Tupou Va’ai into the 23? It pains me to say it as I love what Retallick has done for the black jersey, but instead of bullying opposition, he’s starting to get bullied by opposition tight 5s. He’s also not getting any younger so maybe it’s time to slowly move him on? (I know we won’t). His body had taken a battering pre covid, and he hasn’t come back the same after returning from Japan 6 kg lighter.
Tupaea and Fai’anganuku had nights to forget, especially Big Leicester. He looked lost out there, made a crucial error in early in the 2nd half, and then made a horrible misread on defence in the lead up to the Irish try before thankfully getting dragged, and with Jordan back and Possibly Clarke, I doubt we’ll see him back next week.
Another key battle we lost out there was the aerial battle. Barrett and Smith, once our ball went static (and quite often too), were putting the ball too far, allowing their back 3 to return the ball with no pressure and allowing the Ireland forwards to get back to set up their attack, as well as not giving our wingers a chance to compete more often than not, where as the former Blues reserve halfback during the dark old days Gibson-Park was on point with his kicking from the base, where the Irish competed, and won almost everything in the air. He certainly redeemed himself after having an indifferent game last week .
Mass changes are certainly needed that’s for sure after that debacle, I’m not holding my breath as they have proven that they are reluctant to make changes so I’m only expecting there to be about 2 changes max and I’m not on the anti-foster brigade, but I’m getting very close to joining as we seem to be going backwards at a rate of knots.