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 ?
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.
The "BB can't control a game" is rather ridiculous when the AB win the RC with a bonus point for 4 tries in each game (in fact, they scored an average of 6 tries per game) and with record margins. If you call "control of the game" kicking into the corners in order to apply pressure on the opponents, then BB does not know how to control a game. He just tears the defences to create and score tries which put the AB beyond reach of the opposition. Instead of winning by a 5-10 point margin, the AB, with his "no control", win with an average 25-30 point margin.
I reckon he did not play his usual best last Saturday but that was his sole under par performance of the year. This criticism is beyond me.
Can't even blame an exodus of talent. Only Vito I would class as a definite test class 8/6. Even that was only on his form the last year in NZ after flattering to deceive for much of hist test career.
Maybe but right now, there aren't many LHP of international quality in NZ behind Moody. Moli hasn't shown he is up to it. So who else ? Hodgman looked promising against the Chiefs before his injury. He is big and strong, while his scrummaging seemed to have improved. Ross has a big workrate but his scrummaging is suspect. Johnstone is a good scrummager but his mobility is far from being top notch. Armstrong is playing better these days than he has ever done but I don't know how he is rated by Foster. Numia is promising but still too green. So, IMO, big Karl will probably be selected for the AB squad.
Crucial moments :
@No-Quarter Yeah - I 'd think Charlie might be a bit low on confidence - even a bit gun shy - to be picked, even if he was playing this week.
Proctor would be in consideration if he was playing, but he's in the same concussion boat as several others.
Agree - it would be a big ask making your debut against the Lions, but whomever they would bring in would be pretty much an AB rookie.
Buckman or Laumape might be other options. Buckman's certainly got experience on his side.
Proctor would be a gamble.
I expect much from Alaimalo (Northland and Chiefs). He could win an Israel Folau look alike contest. He is one to watch IMO.
Alex Fidow will probably be on the Hurricanes bench : I expect him to cause havoc with his bullocking runs against tiring defences. His scrummaging has improved but it was only the Mitre 10 Cup. Let's see how he can scrummage against stronger opponents.
Sam Lousi was a revelation in the 2017 SR. If he can confirm, the gates into the AB squad for June 2018 could be open for him.
Will Jordan is all class. If he could play a few games, it would be good for his progression.
Atu Moli : will the Chiefs move him to the loose head where his AB future might lay ?
Jack Goodhue : this is an all important year for him. The AB midfield has not work smoothly this year. He has about three months to prove he can take the job.
Richie Mounga : will he leapfrog Lima Sopoaga as BB's deputy ?
I totally agree with Gregor Paul, it would be pure madness as we would see tens of ABs or future ABs leaving the country. See what happened to Brazilians in soccer. They have lost their aura and aren't feared any more. Their national team is far from being above the others now. And what about Super Rugby ? The NZ derbies would look like Mitre 10 Cup games !
Akira needs to make this opportunity count.
Not really. He needs to play well for the team, but in terms of minutes, he's going to get more opportunities. We can't play Sotutu and Robinson in every game.
I'd like to see a back row of Dalton at 7, Akira at 8 and Sotutu at 6, with Robinson playing lock again. Akira's particularly good at cleaning up messy scrums (not that we have had many this year).
Robinson is a better 6 than 5, IMO.
A couple of years ago, the Highlanders forwards were described as a bunch of Nobodies. Now they have earned some recognition with AB caps to Dixon, Squire and Coltman and with Franklin invited into the AB environment.
The Hurricanes forwards are the new unsung heroes of this SR competition. I was impressed by their demolition of the Waratahs scrum, a scrum which fared pretty well the previous week against the Crusaders and their AB props.
Ben May and J. Toomaga-Allen were outstanding in that respect and I wouldn't be overly surprised if the latter was called in the AB camp for the Lions tour. He is a more reliable player than Ofa-T (though the Aucklander has always done well during the few minutes he has played for the All Blacks).
Fatialofa is an excellent lineout jumper and aggressive in the tight exchanges. He is one of my favourite forwards. Riccitelli is another one who has stepped up considerably : his throwing is accurate and his driving is strong and dynamic. Reed Prinsepp was very good against the Waratahs too while Shields and Abbott's workrate is really impressive. And of course, A. Savea is one of the most brillant (and tallest) loose forward in SR while Dane Coles is the best hooker in the world.
The Hurricanes' success is due to their formidable talent outwide but also to their hard working forwards. This had to be told.
Romano. Barrett. Tuipolutu. Bird..
Would be more than comfortable with any of those guys starting. Especially if it's with one of the the "normal" starters. But hey two of them ain't bad.
Thats still a massive step down tho', we'd be going from the best locking unit in the world to one that probably wont disgrace itself. In contrast we lose A Smith, TJ steps in. Barrett - Cruden, Savea - Naholo, Dagg - NMS etc.
Our gameplan relies on Whitelock & Retalick to a huge degree. And as NQ says, none of those guys are proven test performers, Bird was awful at test level, Tui is an impact sub, Romano has been consistently "OK-ish" when starting & Barrett has played 10 minutes & is currently a 6...
To be honest, I agree Bird was awful when he played for the AB but that was long ago. He has improved a lot since, notably in terms of workrate and "grunt". He should be given a second chance IMO.
Right, on to Hooker.
- Coles (hopefully back for the RC)
- Harris (not sure about this guy, at all - outplayed by Parsons and Taylor this year)
- Funnell (always liked the look of him, would love to watch him starting against quality opposition)
- GPT (FFS Blues)
- Riccitelli (young but promising)
- Dixon (exposed by the Lions, journeyman at best)
- Adrian Smith (deadset Harbour legend)
Asafo Aumua is the obvious young player to look for.
Other names that spring to mind ...
Apisai (? NZQ'ed?)
Andrew Makalio (Tasman & Crusaders) is one to watch. He is very strong and hard to stop ball in hand. I don't know much about his abilities in terms of throwing though.
Good to see the gloves come off a bit this week.
All Black locks should marry tall women in order to have tall children who would later grow enough to become AB locks.
Harris has to go, our lineout falls apart when he comes on. Time for Coltman to have a go.
Our lineout had some shakes when Taylor was still on (although according to Horan it was Coles). Seemed to be when we were throwing long. Tough throw to make
But I agree with the general sentiment. Finding the next hooker is a priority.
So..as we get closer, I haven't seen any specific "number" the selectors are aiming for, but I'd like to see quite a big squad
Moody, Perry, Crockett, Eves
Taylor, Harris, Coltman
Franks, Tu'ungafasi, Toomuga-Allen
Retallick, Whitelock, Romano, Barrett
Squire, Whitelock, Ioane, Fifita, Cane, Todd
Smith, Perenara, Hall
Barrett, Mo'unga, DMac
Crotty, SBW, Laumape, Goodhue, ALB
Ioane, Naholo, Lam, Dagg
37 - it's probably bigger than what the selectors are thinking, but get those guys in there!
Eves? Can't imagine them calling up a 30-year old who has never been in the squad. I was more thinking of Daniel Lienert-Brown. Don't think there's much else separting the two, both not AB level, but at least DLB has time on his side.
How old is Perry ?
Tuitupu + E. Clarke in midfield don't make a good combination. Tuitupu was too one dimensional. I would go with Lee Stensness who was a complete footballer who created a lot of tries for this mates.
Lomax has potential : he is a big man, a young Jamie MacIntosh. I don't see him in an AB jersey before 5 or 6 years though. Owen Franks is not that old for a prop, then there is Nepo Laulala, Ofa T, Michael Alaalatoa and Atu Moli who are all young THP.
The other THP with AB potential are JTA and ATM who are younger than Owen Franks.
On paper the Canes have this easily.
Well, on paper :
Armstrong < Ta'avao
Aumua < Harris
May < Moli
Blackwell < Allardice
Leaupepe < Brown
Fifita > Jacobson (not so sure on current form)
Savea > Boshier
Prinsep < Ardron
TJP > Weber
Barrett > MacKenzie
Tiatia < Wainui
Laumape < ALB
Proctor > Manu
Goosen > Moeakiola
Barrett < Alaimalo
So the Canes superiority on paper is not so evident. If the Chiefs dominate up front - which is probable - it should be a tight result.
I was impressed by Luke Jacobson. His tackling was ferocious, hit the rucks with efficiency and ran hard. He is one to watch this year IMO.
Incredible game from Alex Nankivell too. I hope he will keep playing like that. A combo with ALB could be interesting in the next weeks to come.
I would select (but I am not a selector) but it won't happen :
Moody, Tu'inukuafe, Franks, Ofa-T, JTA (too early for Laulala)
Taylor, Coltman, Makalio
Retallick, Whitelock, Barrett
Squire, Cane, Hemopo, Todd, Read, Ioane
Smith, TJP, Hall
Barrett, DMac, Mo'unga
SBW, Crotty, Goodhue, ALB
Ioane, Naholo, Smith, Barrett, Bridge