The Front Row
World cup knock out stages next year, starting front row De Groot, Samasoni and Newell.
Newell has got the prop gig sorted in spades, doesn’t try to be anything but a prop, does his core duties, starting at scrum time, and then the other duties of a tighty, and lastly ball running. For Crusaders he is more than handy with ball in hand, and I’m sure at test level it will come too. Made for test rugby.
Angus out to pasture, never been a good enough scrummager in my book. Was selected originally thanks to about a million injuries, never because he was the best option. OK around the field, but first jobs first please!
Laulala can only scrum, offers nothing around the field anymore. And while a good TH, not a world beater, so he can bugger off too. Started going downhill after he left the Chiefs - less gametime at the Blues maybe?
Ofa the enigma. He threatened for years to be the next ‘great’ TH. But then he will forget how to scrum, or tackle, or ball handle at various stages through a season. Offers more than the above 2 though. So keep him.
Lomax, I’m still suffering from the hiding he took against the Waratahs! But he went OK against the Boers, I thought he’d get his head driven out through his own bung hole, but he did surprisingly well. He now needs to scrum at this level consistently, and he could rack up a few tests.
LH prop, I’m on the de Groot bandwagon. This guy to me is a natural born meataxe. Big, strong, and wants to dominate in all aspects of play, which is the attitude you need as a prop at the top level. I think he and Newell will be our next Franks/Woodcock duo. We’ve not had a genuine world class pair of props since those world cup winners.
Moody can be world class, and won’t have a lot of milage on the clock by RWC, so if he can stay injury free, and get time at the coalface, he could push de Groot to the bench. It would be my preferred pair.
Aiden Ross is another prop who is there for his core duties first and foremost, so is my 3rd choice. I expect the more time he gets at test level the better he’ll be too, not afraid to do the hard yards in the dark of rucks and mauls.
Bower, if he keeps improving as he has this season, he could force himself into the mix too. If Moody doesn’t come good, Bower may get the nod come match day.
Big Karl was a stupid choice in this season for the All Blacks. He was buggering off to France, was never the incumbent, so can’t see he had a lot to pass on to the new props. If it had been a Woody, with 100 tests than yes. But it wasn’t, you may as well have stuck a Norris in to get a bit of experience at AB level. Big Karl, like Laulala, went downhill as a prop after joining the Blues. Less game time etc, and he system turning into a bouncer again!
Hookers, Samasoni, Taylor and Brodie McAlister.
Dane Coles, sorry me old mate, your time is up. Unless, unless you get a full season with the Hurricanes, injury free, and play bloody well. So no, you’re gone.
Asafo Aumua fourth option. If Coles is injured all season, he’ll get a chance to Push for AB selection. But he needs to get his throwing to international standard. Everything else is there already!
Taylor looks like he’s distracted at the moment. Perhaps off field problems? I back him to hit the field next season refreshed and aiming for RWC glory. He’ll form a 1-2 punch with McAlister that will be the envy of other Super sides.
McAlister, he looks another Crusaders front rower bred to play test rugby. Physically looks the part, a block of a man. I think he’d excell.
Kurt Eklund, I don’t think he’d let the side down, but I think he’ll only get in if there are a run of injuries. A bit like Angus at TH!
So there you go, youngsters for the RWC for me!