Reshuffling the All Blacks backline



  • With Carter, Nonu and C. Smith gone, NMS injured (plus Naholo and Dagg also out of contention), the AB backline will be reshuffled. Early days though but here are a few thoughts and possibilities.
     
    Full back :
    three options there : Smith, Barrett or McKenzie.
    With NMS and Naholo injured, I would go with McKenzie and shift Smith to the right wing. McKenzie is outstanding at S18 level, it would be interesting to see if he can bring that brillance at international level. Last year's NMS example is a matter of optimism. Moreover, he is an additional goalkicker.
     
    Right wing :
    Not too many options : Smith and Jane. 
    Jane too old IMO. Smith selected on the right wing means that a new full back has to be found.
     
    Centre :
    Options : Fekitoa, Crotty, Ngatai, Tamanivalu, Ranger
    During the last years, the AB backline play was dominant thanks to Conrad Smith's vision and skills. I don't see any other centre in NZ (and in the whole world) with the same qualities. I know only one player who has a comparable profile, with the notable exception of his defense (many of you will laugh and stop reading) but he has never played in that position, it is Beauden Barrett. He is a very gifted footballer, with pace to burn and good hands. Why not making him a centre ? 
     
    2nd Five Eight :
    Options : Ngatai, Crotty, Moala, Laumape
    Ngatai is currently head and shoulders above the other contenders. Ryan Crotty has more experience at international level but he is more a centre than a 2nd Five. Moala is like the Blues team at the moment, with more downs than ups. Laumape : far too early.
     
    Left wing :
    Options : Savea, Lowe, Osborne
    Despite his loss of form (only temporary I hope), Savea should be the man. With two "new" players in midfield, there won't be any novice on the wings. I am not too convinced by Osborne (not great under the high balls). Lowe has more to offer IMO.
     
    1st Five Eight :
    Options : Barrett, Cruden, Sopoaga (in alphabetical order)
    Still open to debate.
     
    So, my first choice backline would be ;
     
    McKenzie, Smith, Fekitoa (Barrett ?), Ngatai, Savea, Cruden.
    If McKenzie is not selected, then I would go with Sopoaga at 10 because of his safer goal kicking.



  • Cruden needs to start goal kicking soon to demand selection.  He is the best 1st 5 of the candidates but Sopoaga is a better goal kicker than both Cruden and Barrett.



  • You were right on the laughing part, though I did keep reading. Second five and centre are probably the hardest positions to defend on the field. If Ben Smith couldn't do it, Barrett has no chance.
     
    I'm really not sure about Savea, he wasn't great last year aside from one game against a shit French team, and he's fatter than ever this year, even five rounds into the bloody comp! I'm guessing Hansen will pick him for the June test squad but send him to fat camp for the entire month, like he did last year.
     
    I'd also put Moala in the left wingers column, as that's apparently the position they saw him in last year. Seems like a guy they'd like to work on a bit before throwing him into the midfield.
     
    Just looking at the June tests, I'd go with A Smith, Cruden, Lowe, Ngatai, Fekitoa, B Smith and McKenzie, with TKB, Barrett and Crotty on the bench.



  • Nice piece, but that Barrett at 13 idea of yours is MENTAL. He's not exactly a great tackler as it is.



  • No love for the Blues backs (excepting Moala)?
    I know they're the Blues but there is some raw talent there.



  • Oh yeah. Put me down as a "no" to the Barrett at 13 idea.



  • No love for the Blues backs (excepting Moala)?
    I know they're the Blues but there is some raw talent there.

    There is (as always), but none will come close to ABs selection this year apart from Moala and maybe Ranger if he can get on the field regularly.



  • Great to see someone else raise the idea of Beauden Barrett at Centre. You got the same predictable reaction as I got a couple of month ago. Most people don't like thinking outside of the box I'm afraid, Cgrant.
    Fekitoa will start against Wales, but Beauden Barrett could be the long-term replacement for Conrad Smith. Very similar athletes in lots of ways (same height, similar weight and build, similar instinctive reading of play etc.), just Conrad had a great hunger to learn and work on his weaknesses. Not an easy guy to replace at all.



  • Hayman for number eight
     
    It's not thinking outside the box
     
    It's putting a guy whose never played centre in the position in the best team in the world. The same team that learnt in 99 and 03 that putting players with so called "attributes" into centre doesn't farking work!
     
    What next? Mackenzie at half back? Retallick at first five because he once kicked a ball, or just in case Smith throws a high pass?
     
    Besides, would Barrett rather play at centre or earn 1.5 million in Europe - might as well hand him his boarding pass with the 13 jersey



  • When exactly will the first All Blacks squad of the year be named? I find it a bit strange to say that Naholo and Dagg are out of contention because they are injured NOW.
    Dagg is due back in April and Naholo, I think, as well. There's still time for those two.
     
    I wonder whether Hansen is going for an extended squad again, with players for the June tests, and some apprentices.
     
    I don't see Jane (too old), Tamanivalu or Osborne make the ABs; Moala and Ranger need show a LOT more form to be selected IMO; for Lowe and DMac - and especially Laumape - it may be too soon (unless as apprentices). I don't think you can compare them with NMS, as he's several years older (than DMAC particularly).



  • Hayman for number eight
     
    It's not thinking outside the box
     
    It's putting a guy whose never played centre in the position in the best team in the world. The same team that learnt in 99 and 03 that putting players with so called "attributes" into centre doesn't farking work!
     
    What next? Mackenzie at half back? Retallick at first five because he once kicked a ball, or just in case Smith throws a high pass?
     
    Besides, would Barrett rather play at centre or earn 1.5 million in Europe - might as well hand him his boarding pass with the 13 jersey

    Dagg at first five! Ardie at second!



  • McKenzie, Smith, Fekitoa , Ngatai, Savea, Sopoaga, Smith



  • Great to see someone else raise the idea of Beauden Barrett at Centre. You got the same predictable reaction as I got a couple of month ago. Most people don't like thinking outside of the box I'm afraid, Cgrant.
    Fekitoa will start against Wales, but Beauden Barrett could be the long-term replacement for Conrad Smith. Very similar athletes in lots of ways, just Conrad had a great hunger to learn and work on his weaknesses. Not an easy guy to replace at all.

    Hah, how hilarious....wow that's some amazing thinking outside the box. Or not. Similar athletes in lots of ways? What, several lanky limbs?



  • Dagg at first five! Ardie at second!

    Both better ideas than Barrett at center btw.



  • Assuming none of the injured guys are back in time for Wales;
     
    15. Barrett 14. Ben Smith 13. Fekitoa 12. Ngatai 11. Savea 10. A.Cruden 9  A.Smith
     
    Bench: McKenzie, Sopoaga, TJP



  • No mention of Beaver here? Looked sharp for the Chiefs. Handles pressure OK.



  • More seriously, can Fekitoa play 12?
    I think replacing Nonu's hard running at the line is possibly the biggest gap to fill for the ABs.



  • Assuming none of the injured guys are back in time for Wales;
    15. Barrett 14. Ben Smith 13. Fekitoa 12. Ngatai 11. Savea 10. A.Cruden 9 A.Smith
    Bench: McKenzie, Sopoaga, TJP

    IMO either Sopoaga or McKenzie have to start. Neither Barrett nor Cruden are international-calibre goal kickers. Might not matter against Wales if I'm being arrogant but at some stage in 2016 it will matter.



  • Well if everyone is pushing for DMac as FB isnt his kicking good enough that relying on Cruden is not as essential?   Sopoaga kicks and has been running the Highlanders backline well and really deserves a run.  I have seen nothing wrong with Ngatai at second.  So Cruden, Ngatai, Fekitoa, B Smith, DMac and Savea/Naholo.  Savea just needs a diet or some time with Gordon.



  • I dont see why when a player retires you have to try and find the same player, 
     
    If Fekitoa is our best 13 it doesnt matter that he is different to conrad,
     
    Just like it didnt matter Nonu was different to pretty much everyone else that went before him


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