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OPINION:The Richie Mo’unga-Beauden Barrett ‘dual playmaker’ system is anything but a revolution.
In fact, every Kiwi team that has won Super Rugby since 2012 has employed a fullback who could comfortably play No 10. Think Aaron Cruden and Robbie Robinson of the Chiefs (2012), or Cruden and Gareth Anscombe (2013), or Barrett himself with James Marshall (2016) and recently Mo’unga with David Havili. The Highlanders were the exception in 2015 but the men from Dunedin will likely change their system next year (more on the relevance of that later).
So, so why does the All Blacks’ current situation feel so different?
Because the No 10-15 partnership isn’t just about a ‘system’, It’s about the relationship between the two players. It’s about one player being first violin, and the fullback being second violin, and both being happy in those roles. The success of the All Blacks’ tactical switch really boils down to the rapport between Mo’unga and Barrett, and the tricky question of seniority.
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Let’s rewind a bit. The Chiefs’ teams of 2012 and 2013 had a lot of stars but they were really blessed because they had Robinson and Anscombe. Robinson was probably better suited to fullback because of his searing pace but he has played plenty of footy in the front line during his career. Anscombe was the No 10 at New Zealand under-20s level (ironically, ahead of Barrett) and was due to be first choice for Wales at this Rugby World Cup before injury struck – outstanding credentials.
When the Hurricanes won in 2016 they had a powerful all-round game but when things got tight at the sharp end of the
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