Beauden Barrett These constituents are magnificent!!
After a bad performance and an even worse result against Australia, the All Blacks are facing big problems right now, but have the chance to respond this weekend.
OPINION: Nothing puts All Blacks fans more on edge than a revitalised and dangerous Australian team.
The Wallabies, and the Aussie media, smell blood and haven’t been afraid to fire a few pot shots at the men in black since they annihilated them in Perth last week.
Buckle up for Bledisloe II with five talking points.
* RWC match schedule and pools
* How to watch the Rugby World Cup
* Hansen: Squire still has a chance
* A Bridge over troubled waters
1. The case of the dropped wings
It’s your call if you want to believe Steve Hansen’s claim he would have started Crusaders wings George Bridge and Sevu Reece for Rieko Ioane and Ben Smith, even if the All Blacks had the Bledisloe Cup in the bag.
While it’s feasible that’s the case with Smith, given there is a mountain of proof what he’s capable of, Ioane simply had to be dumped for Saturday night’s test at Eden Park.
The 22-year-old has practically done zilch since turning up for the Blues and scoring four tries against the Sunwolves early in the Super Rugby season.
His lack of hunger is a real concern, and isn’t new.
Perhaps seeing Bridge run out with the No 11 on his back will be the shot in the backside Ioane needs.
As for Smith, who is still sure to make the Rugby World Cup squad, it’s difficult to see him getting another run on the wing, meaning just how involved he is moving forward will come down to whether or not he’s required at fullback.
Which leads us to point two.
2. Mo’unga and Barrett it is
It appears Steve Hansen has all but made up his mind – Richie Mo’unga will play first-five and Beauden Barrett will trot out at fullback in Japan.
Opting to stick with the much-debated ploy for a third straight match says it all, particularly when the All Blacks have just 160 minutes of rugby in front of them before the World Cup kicks off.
It’s simply too late to keep chopping and changing. Particularly when the team desperately needs to generate
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