What is the best AB Midfield?



  • I haven't seen our midfield operate with clinical precision for some time and it appears they are not coping with 'rush' defence or close inspection of our 10-12-13 numbers.
    There's plenty of support for SBW especially after the last Test, however, I just wonder if he is one of the major reasons why Crotty or ALB are contained effectively.
    Maybe a combination of ALB at 12 and Crotty outside, or maybe after we see more of Goodhue it could well be ALB at 12 with Goodhue outside.



  • Eliminating ALB is the first step in making that decision.



  • ...and replaced by who????



  • @centreman Anyone else.



  • OK...just as a left field one...why not slot Jordie in at 12 when he comes back???



  • I really like the look of Goodhue, but he may face the second season blues next year, as ALB did this year. Goodhue looks like a more physically robust player though.



  • @tim said in WHAT IS THE BEST AB MIDFIELD COMBINATION:

    I really like the look of Goodhue, but he may face the second season blues next year, as ALB did this year. Goodhue looks like a more physically robust player though.

    Yes but that doesn't solve the question of #12 which is where I feel the AB's have a problem of quick decisive distribution.
    What I would really like to see is Laumape at 12 with Goodhue outside him.....would be interesting to see if it would work.
    Both have had exceptional seasons, but untried at Test level.



  • Goodhue slotted into 12 seamlessly at NPC this year, although it is only NPC....is a pretty solid unit though.



  • The best performed AB midfield combo in the last 2 years has been Crotty (12) and ALB (13).



  • @bovidae said in WHAT IS THE BEST AB MIDFIELD COMBINATION:

    The best performed AB midfield combo in the last 2 years has been Crotty (12) and ALB (13).

    Agree. And the Crotty/Fekitoa one wasn’t far behind either.

    SBW was always going to come back into the fray once fit. Hansen and co see more upside than what he may not be doing that grated on some fans.

    At this point it appears they see SBW/Crotty as the first choice combo. But they are only in their first season of playing together as a combo, so as should be expected there have been ups and downs. I think there are question marks about what the will be for this combo.

    Prior to 2008 we had the veritable revolving door for a good 6 years. And even after the cartel settled on Nonu/Smith, they were trying others in there at various points e.g. Kahui, Toeava, Stanley, Ranger, SBW, Bender. So Hansen at least is not afraid to try some things out and I think this tour we’ll see a few different things. I wouldn’t mind seeing a SBW/Laumape combo for instance. That could be SBW/Fruean circa 2011 Crusaders mark II.



  • My only problem with Crotty is that while he has the goods, he seldom lasts more than a couple of tests before he is injured. He just doesn't seem durable .
    Laumape/Goodhue is one I would like to see operate for a few games....maybe we may see that over the coming weeks or next year.
    Whatever happens, my concern is that we need a settled combination pretty soon as time is running out before the RWC. There needs to be extended game time with the same combination ala Nonu/Smith, which is a given that it was quite unique to have their extended period as a settled combination in Super and at Test level.



  • Cue Laumape and Goodhue running into a string of injuries over the next couple of years...



  • Long time reader, first time poster.

    McKenzie 12, Sopoaga 13.

    Reckon it's worth a go.



  • @billy-tell outside Dagg. A Savea in 23.



  • Crotty is first name on the sheet in the MF. It's just a matter of who's with him. I agree with those that thought ALB Crotty was good. I'd like to see them given opportunity on the tour



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  • @canefan said in What is the best AB Midfield?:

    Crotty is first name on the sheet in the MF. It's just a matter of who's with him.

    yeah....especially after the Brisbane Bledisloe.......



  • @centreman said in What is the best AB Midfield?:

    @tim said in WHAT IS THE BEST AB MIDFIELD COMBINATION:

    I really like the look of Goodhue, but he may face the second season blues next year, as ALB did this year. Goodhue looks like a more physically robust player though.

    Yes but that doesn't solve the question of #12 which is where I feel the AB's have a problem of quick decisive distribution.
    What I would really like to see is Laumape at 12 with Goodhue outside him.....would be interesting to see if it would work.
    Both have had exceptional seasons, but untried at Test level.

    I agree, both are hugely exciting talents, but both are probably a couple of years away and a lot can happen in that time. But like you I'd love to see them together, I think they'd compliment each other in a similar way to Nonu and Smith.



  • I wonder if ALB has put on a bit much size, because he looks bigger and if so, maybe affected his game a touch?



  • @taniwharugby He's been noticeably slow after taking a gap this year.



  • It's not just precision we need but incision.Tired of playing safe. My vote goes to Laumape and Goodhue, time to unshackle the beast...



  • @tim said in What is the best AB Midfield?:

    @taniwharugby He's been noticeably slow after taking a gap this year.

    Yeah that’s been the most noticeable thing for me this year. When he came on in that Lions test he was getting beat on the outside very easily.

    His power game close in has been good though.



  • My prediction for the 2019 RWC : Goodhue (12) - Ioane (13).
    But for 2018, I'd go with Crotty (12) - Goodhue (13).



  • @cgrant said in What is the best AB Midfield?:

    My prediction for the 2019 RWC : Goodhue (12) - Ioane (13).

    Wings as centres eh - that shouldn't cause any issues or send the Fern into a meltdown.

    More chance of Ngatai returning to that level than Ioane coming in I'd say. He's too good out wide.



  • The only reasons we would move a quality winger to centre is if the cupboard is bare at centre or said winger loses some pace.

    Can’t see either of those being the case over the next two years.

    I wouldn’t be giving up on the four we have seen so far this year of Crotty, SBW, ALB and Laumape just yet.



  • @act-crusader Pretty sure Hansen said last year that they see Ioane as a centre. Centre is arguably a more important position, so why not move the wing?



  • @nzzp said in What is the best AB Midfield?:

    @cgrant said in What is the best AB Midfield?:

    My prediction for the 2019 RWC : Goodhue (12) - Ioane (13).

    Wings as centres eh - that shouldn't cause any issues or send the Fern into a meltdown.

    More chance of Ngatai returning to that level than Ioane coming in I'd say. He's too good out wide.

    Ioane has played most of his footy as a centre. He was the best centre in the Blues, but I felt they put in Moala on reputation (as an All Black).
    When Ioane played on the wing for the AB's, I thought they were just blooding him in.
    I would still like to see him play centre for the Blues, and move out to the wing for the AB's to accommodate better midfield players, just like how we had Smith/Dagg playing wing even though they're fullbacks. However, if he is the form centre, why not reward his form and play him at centre?



  • @mimic he might have been the Blues best, but I thought he struggled there. His read of the play seemed way off test level.

    Even if they see him as a centre it could be a case of the reverse Kahui. They thought he was a centre but he played his best test footy as a winger.

    I would be very reticent to move Ioane given what he’s provided as a winger. IMO he’s had two MOTM performances as a winger this year. Keep it going I’d say.



  • @act-crusader He was 19 at the time.



  • There are a lot of very good midfielders but most of them are best suited to the inside position (Laumape, Crotty, Ngatai, SBW) than centre. Goodhue has been outstanding for the Taniwhas as a second 5/8. So why not test Ioane with the "13" jersey if, of course, he plays there with the Blues.



  • Starting point the five in the squad.

    Of these one has experience and nous you want on the pitch when the chips are down: Crotty. So for me he's the first pick. But even though on paper he ought to be as at home at 13 as 12 it doesn't seem to have worked out that way, and he was the spanner in the works in Brisbane. Exceptional decision maker at 12 and also makes BB's game management significantly better at 10.

    Haven't seen enough of Laumape and Goodhue to back them in our best combo. Both young and learning their trade. Goodhue seems to have the skills to develop into a world class 13, which is where we seem to have least depth.

    SBW had a good game in Brisbane, makes lots of tackles, takes the ball up effectively, and still has some moments of magic. Seems not to be playing his natural game. And game management not a strength, both personally or for his 10. Wise men see him exclusively as a 12, but, as someone posted a week or so ago, I'd like to see how he went at 13 outside Crotty.

    ALB has a good head on his shoulders and can play both 12 and 13 well. Good passing/offloading skills. Like Crotty, lacks the size to be a good crash baller at test level.

    I think Crotty/ALB has been the best combo we've seen recently, but lacks the physicality one wants, and that did impede us once oppositions worked it out.

    I'd like to see SBW/ALB get a decent run over a full game.

    At the risk of arousing MN5, Ngatai, has the attraction of combining game management with physicality and can pass and kick well. Hope he gets through Maori tour without breaking.

    In summary, the jury remains out!



  • Don't discount the possibility of Ngatai/ALB getting a much better run at the Chiefs in 2018, similar to 2016 where they were the form combo.
    For them, much will depend on how well the new 9/10 setup at the Chiefs goes. If they get smooth delivery they could well re-establish themselves and feature strongly in the AB selectors thoughts. (Edit: same goes for the Crotty/Goodhue opportunity)
    At the moment the game plan at the ABs seems to insist on having a big 12. The defensive structure looks for that player to kill the opposition back play from going too wide and to capitalise on turnovers by having the rest of the defensive backline in 'half attack/defence' positioning.
    I don't think it is working as it is killing our own set attack with the opposition getting better and better at slowing down the recycle once our 12 makes the advantage line. A bit more creativity wouldn't go amiss.
    I do wish someone would teach SBW how to run angles though. His natural instinct is for full frontal aggression. Some Nonu like angles would get him past the first line where his offloading ability could come into play.



  • @act-crusader Yup can't say I was a massive fan of Rieko at centre. He went far better once he was shifted out to the wing.



  • @african-monkey said in What is the best AB Midfield?:

    @act-crusader Yup can't say I was a massive fan of Rieko at centre. He went far better once he was shifted out to the wing.

    Rieko was disappointing for Blues, and, given AB record of playing at centre stars in form in other positions , I'd say best leave well enough alone!



  • @pakman said in What is the best AB Midfield?:

    Starting point the five in the squad.

    Of these one has experience and nous you want on the pitch when the chips are down: Crotty. So for me he's the first pick. But even though on paper he ought to be as at home at 13 as 12 it doesn't seem to have worked out that way, and he was the spanner in the works in Brisbane. Exceptional decision maker at 12 and also makes BB's game management significantly better at 10.

    Haven't seen enough of Laumape and Goodhue to back them in our best combo. Both young and learning their trade. Goodhue seems to have the skills to develop into a world class 13, which is where we seem to have least depth.

    SBW had a good game in Brisbane, makes lots of tackles, takes the ball up effectively, and still has some moments of magic. Seems not to be playing his natural game. And game management not a strength, both personally or for his 10. Wise men see him exclusively as a 12, but, as someone posted a week or so ago, I'd like to see how he went at 13 outside Crotty.

    ALB has a good head on his shoulders and can play both 12 and 13 well. Good passing/offloading skills. Like Crotty, lacks the size to be a good crash baller at test level.

    I think Crotty/ALB has been the best combo we've seen recently, but lacks the physicality one wants, and that did impede us once oppositions worked it out.

    I'd like to see SBW/ALB get a decent run over a full game.

    At the risk of arousing MN5, Ngatai, has the attraction of combining game management with physicality and can pass and kick well. Hope he gets through Maori tour without breaking.

    In summary, the jury remains out!

    Aw christ, just stop the fapping!

    Since when is ALB too small to hit it up? He did this pretty effectively this year.



  • I'm torn between taking a similar approach we did to the right wing in 2015, where we didn't really have the satisfactory answers until Super Rugby threw up Nohalo and NMS in the RWC year - even though we had Dagg and Jane in our back pocket. Just wait and see - plenty of rugby to go and between Super Rugby and happenstance a decent centre combo will shake out eventually.

    The other side of the coin is given there is so many variables - with most guys in the conversation playing both 12 and 13 (...or 14 or 15) I would almost be inclined to ink one spot in and try and fit the partner around him - which for me would be SBW at 12.

    Crotty too injury prone and does not have any game breaking quality where you are willing to accept that risk.



  • @rotated SBW hardly has any cartilage left in one knee. I don't think we want all our eggs in that basket.



  • I think SBW is a far better bench option than a starter and moving him there would give us an ability to change the focus in that last 20-30 when his weapons should be far more effective against a tiring defence.

    He's just not that much better (if at all) than the other starting options but has shown he can be a real asset injected late. He just doesn't have the full range of skills for the structured game but comes into his own big time when the game gets looser.

    Unfortunately starting him and then using him as a carthorse means he's less effective in the 4th quarter than coming on fresh.

    I do get he is a great bale out option at 2nd 5 and can't fault his work ethic but I feel they are trying to get him to replicate Nonu's game and he just doesn't have the same skills. TBF neither did Ma'a initially but SBW's age is against him there.



  • @pakman as soon as someone dismisses Crotty as lacking physicality, it makes me start to think they don't really know what they're talking about. When they then throw in ALB in the lacking basket and promptly offer up Ngatai as the opposite, it confirms it.


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