So the ABs finished the game with the following forwards :
Who could have guessed that at the beginning of the season ?
People in this forum are great fans of Richie Mounga. He's had a mare : missed an easy tackle on Daly who is not the quickest fullback nor the strongest one (this led to England's first try), then could not handle the English rush defence. Let's hope he'll learn from this very disappointing performance.
The Bounga experiment was clearly a failure with BB's kicking from hand being an issue. Would DMac have done better ?
A few random thoughts :
This is the third shit game from the ABs in 13 months (vs England, 1st and 4th Bled).
No depth at all at tighthead prop since Lomax and Laulala seemed to struggle (4th Bled for Lomax, 2nd Bled for Laulala).
Akira was on fire till he was pulled out. I'd like to see a starting combo of Ioane - Cane - Sotutu with Savea on the bench. This could be devastating.
SB was good till his brainfart. His YC card certainly cost NZ the game.
Vaa'i was good when he came in. Far better than his SRA outings were suggesting.
Weber added pace to the backline when he came in. He should be given more gametime against the Argies.
Is it the weakest AB squad since 2004 ?
There is a lot of fringe players who do not seem to be of international calibre. Perry is struggling at SR level, Frizell is the third choice blindside flanker for the Highlanders, TTT, Mo'unga are largely untested, DMac has yet to have a good game at 1st Five, this season, Fifita has been very anonymous, Scott Barrett is lacking the necessary physique for an international lock while JTA has never propped at TH at the upper level. Moreover, L. Whitelock is just here to fill a gap in Read's absence, NMS does not have the pace of an international wing and Harris is a journeyman as is Ofa T. If the RWC was to be played toimorrow, I doubt this team could make the final.
Evans and Hemopo are other names you could throw in the mix.
Be interesting who gets the 6 shirt against Italy.
I would add Seu as well. It's a shame he was injured this year and so missed most of the SR season. I found him outstanding during the last stages of the Mitre 10 Cup.
Who do you guys think MacDonald will select for the first game? I wonder if a few ABs will start from the bench? I'm assuming that Niuia, Vikena, Hunt, Faiane, and Narawa will be unavailable. Probably Gibson too.
Big calls at 12 and lock. I'll guess this XXIII:
17 Karl T
18 Ofa T
Not sure all the ABs will be selected in round one, especially the loose forwards and maybe one of the props. Would like to see Ofa T start, as the Blues are his team. Akira Ioane or Sotutu to be subbed and the other two loose forwards to stay on the field. Hunt could've been handy as a turnover option in the early rounds. I'd prefer to have Nock and Pierce starting. Hope Plummer has improved his defence at 12!
Don't write off Jacob Pierce.
England's performance was poor, again. If three of their tries had been disallowed (one blatant knock-on, one forward pass, one late tackle before Watson's intercept), the score would have bee much tighter and more in line with the game's physiognomy.
Only three ABs, were we that bad?
Maybe Caleb Clarke & Aaron Smith.
Sotutu and Aioane would have been in with a shout if they had more time on the park.
Maybe four with Aaron Smith who was the best All Black of the year but Antoine Dupont was just incredible. So who else ? Moody was far from his best, Ofa T is a penalty magnet, Frizzel was not bad but not good either, Savea is not a Nr.8, Mo'unga blew hot and cold, the midfield was meh, as were the Barrett bros, both playing out of position. Caleb Clarke had two good games but Johnny May had more minutes on the paddock.
Based on the 6N and the RC + the Autumn Nations Cup :
Mako Vunipola (England)
Dane Coles (NZ)
James Ryan (Ireland)
Sam Whitelock (NZ)
Marcos Kremer (Argentina)
Sam Cane (NZ)
Gregory Alldritt (France)
Antoine Dupont (France)
Romain N'Tamack (France)
Tom May (England)
Owen Farrell (England)
Viremi Vakatawa (France)
Tom Wright (Australia)
Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
I could not name a THP as no one was a standout, IMO.
It was hard to name a fullback, so Hogg by default.
Alternative team :
Rokocoko / Savea
I'm intrigued as to what this is the alternative to...
Brown / Hayman
Smith / Umaga
Smith / Wilson
I could have written Kronfeld instead of Holah and Robin Brooke instead of Thorn in my "alternative" team.