So what did we learn from Bledisloe 2?
So a thumping win, great to see, and great to see some captaincy all about winning - take the 3 when it’s a gimmie - take a bow Sam Whitelock.
Learnings (to borrow one of the many fcuked up terms that players and coaches seem to spout ad nauseum in interviews).
Jordy Barrett is a 12, and as a centre, Reiko Iaone makes a really good wing.
Big Jordy loved it in close, about as much as the old campaigner Foley hated it, seeing the youngest Barrett charging down his defensive channel time and time again! For the first time this season the All Black 12 looked commanding - something we haven’t seen since Nonu was making defenders look weak and feable! Keep him there please Fozzie, perhaps at last we’ve hit it right putting a fullback into the midfield (Cullen, Muliania anyone)!
Reiko - in the last two tests has shown a complete lack of ability to put his outsides away into a gap. He’s got a man with more gas than Russia outside him, and he doesn’t pass him the ball - Will Jordan only needs half a yard of space and it’s goodnight nurse. Reiko was the best wing in the world two short years ago, the centre experiment has failed. Move him back to his wing please.
We need to find a 6. Like the midfield being spoilt with the GOAT combination of Smith and Nonu, we’ve had nothing since another GOAT, or close to it, Kaino retired. Akira is not the answer, Frizell is not the answer, Barrett is not the answer. We’ve had no one dominant in the tackle like Kaino since, well Kaino, Barrett’s a lock who tries hard, Akira a show pony who vanishes when the hard work is needed, and Frizell has had plenty of chances but never cemented the position as his. I think we miss Blackadder, probably out best option in 6 at the moment.
Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tu’uangafasi are not up to test level anymore. Nepo especially. He was so slow getting off the ground after making tackles he was in danger of taking root in the turf. Certainly not the agile player that seems to fill the 1 and 3 jerseys across international teams. Ofa not quite so bad, but still not what you need at test level. And who’d have thunk, Tyrel Lomax earning scrum penalties, making years with the ball in hand, and in general being a very good test level prop. Certainly not me after he was demolished in the Super 12-13-14-15 (whatever it is now) while playing against NSW! Ethan de Groot. The more he plays, the more I like him. Horrible missed tackle early, but after that was fine, and has a bit of attitude about him - almost like a halfback stuck in a props body, and making the best of a bad situation! Richard Loe was not afraid of lettting players know their pedigree, and I think Ethan is the same!
Beauden Barrett is best at fullback. The extra room, and the ability to play his running game make him super dangerous, The fact that he has bugger all of a passing game is masked, so keep him out of 10, 15 is for him.
Foster, put on your big boy coaching pants and tell the veteran that’s where he’s going to play, so suck it up buttercup.
I think we’re going to be fine come the next world cup at hooker, Samasoni will be number 1, and between the two veterans Coles and Taylor, we’ll get enough time to rest the human wrecking ball at the tail end of matches. Taylor looked a lot more like Taylor, this match, looks like he’s getting his mojo back - off field and on perhaps…?
Bring back McCaw… OK, another GOAT, and not just 7, but our loose trio as a trio has been outplayed in pretty much every test this year, generally as much impact as a fly on a windscreen. Only Ardi is consistently earning his keep, and he should be at 7. It’s a sad state of affairs when a converted opensider is out best 8. Doesn’t say much for Sotutu et al. Are there any youngsters coming through - in all 3 positions?
Plumtree and Moar must have been bad. We had heard that they were only kept on after last seasons tour because of Fozzy, that the players wanted them gone, but… Anyway, the amount of times the players sing Jason Ryans praises must be grating to Foz, and Plums! Another wrong decision from supercoach.
Learning: Or thought 1.
Perofeta, Tuivasa-Sheck, why? You don’t try and find out if players are good enough for the All Blacks by picking them and then trying to train them up. They earn their place by form in Super and NPC etc. RTS wasn’t trusted to come into the 12 shirt for this test despite the first and second choice 12s being injured. A project player? A waster of space selection. He won’t be running out in a RWC knockout game unless there are at least 5 centre injuries - Reiko, Jordy, Anton, Jack, David… Perofeta, poor bugger, here’s 90 seconds to prove yourself, win the deciding test against Ireland. Another wasted jersey. The selection of Fakatava as a different type of halfback from Smith. Then we use Smith-lite, Christie off the bench. Webber should have been there ahead of all 3, the best running halfback in NZ, and his pass in not half bad either, and his support play and outright pace unmatched by any 9 in the world.
I think that’s about it, so are we on the right track for nextx years RWC? No. We’ve still got a coach that is too bloody nice when it comes to giving players 900 chances. We’re probably lucky Comin Meads is supping a beer with Prince Phillip and Lizzy a tth emoment, otherwise Fozzy would have given ole Pinetree another chance. So kiss another win goodbye, even if we play well. France is going to be too strong at home and will win their first trophy after 2, or is it 3 finals. They play good rugby too, so good luck to them!