One thing which the AB's poor decision making in the last two tests has made apparent is the draining of experience amongst AB level midfielders. If one thinks of the top guys, those over 25 are Crotty, Moala, Ngatai and SBW. The last is not a natural rugby union man. Moala has never been known for his smarts. Given that, Charlie N and Crotty are very precious commodities.
Barrett (B) is still a bit green at first five under the greatest pressure and is much more effective with someone like Crotty outside him.
Fekitoa/Piutau/Saili, etc. are cumulatively big losses. Talented and athletic midfielders are clearly a big target for overseas agents. NZ Rugby brains trust needs to make sure it pays due regard to the fact that the 'thinking' midfielders can be late maturers: Conrad didn't hit his straps until he was past 26.
The first half of that first Lions test is probably the best our 10-12-13 combination has looked for a while, probably since the DC-Nonu-Smith days.
Good balance, accurate, playing a good mix of direct and wide game. Solid defensively.
Two completely different positions.
Despite being burned at multiple World Cups over it I'm convinced now more than ever you can create a centre from any defensively sound, strong passer who has at least one way of beating a defender (speed, strength, offload, step). From there it is all about time and game-time in the structure.
Second five - almost the complete opposite. The way the ABs play it seems like we run so much through the 12 - at times they are making more decisions than 10. Finding one who can make that volume of decisions without making massive mistakes and hold their own in defense is incredibly difficult.
I wouldn't be too concerned about fringe 13s departing, only 12s.
Not too concerned as between Crotty, SBW, ALB, Ngatai, Laumape the answer will be there. It's just a matter of finding the combo and giving them consistent game time.
I fully acknowledge players can improve technically and mentally.
But I lost a lot of confidence in Fekitoa's temperament after that crazy head high tackle in Dublin last year. It was woeful, with no mitigating circumstances to explain to me how that happened.
But there is always hope. I remember Nonu doing a hilariously inappropriate spear tackle on an Irish centre on the 05 eoyt, like you couldn't make that shit up.
Im looking forward to getting caps under the belts of this next crop.
One of the 12's mentioned in this threat whom I'm really warming to is Rob Thompson from the Highlanders as @Bones just mentioned.
I think he has the right size, temperament and skills to make a good long term 12, inside centre, 2nd 5/8. Plus he has good speed of foot and a good footy brain.
I think the highlanders have looked better when he's been on the pitch which this season which unfortunately, hasn't been as consistent as no doubt he would like.
And at 25 (26 in August) he's at that age where midfielders are just starting to hit their peak.