- By Kevin McCarthy
It was fascinating but not very informative to have the last five days or so of dissection of the All Blacks thumping loss to the Wallabies in Bledisloe One.
But now at least we have the team out for Bledisloe Two. Both wingers and one prop gone on form alone. You’d imagine from that the All Blacks had butchered multiple chances on the wing and been out scrummed.
Or is the response about more than the one game result from last week.
Frankly you wouldn’t expect the World Cup plans to be derailed by a loss to a fired up Wallabies side, abetted by Scott Barrett’s red card.
The arguments about the All Blacks this last week have largely split into three camps. The first is that the team’s been on the slide for a long time, and now is well and truly back in the pack. Evidence is pretty good although not conclusive.
The second is that the team is pretty much where it wants to be this far out. History is littered with teams that impressed before the big show actually starts. The theory is that this is 2015 when the All Blacks went in with a pretty mediocre form, and didn’t actually fire any shots under the quarter-finals.
The third is that the All Blacks, in a variation on point two, are also sandbagging and not revealing their hand. That’s always very hard to prove before the fact.
Theories Two and Three can be merged into the Don’t Worry Guys, We’ve Got This camp, which quite a few still subscribe to.
The response to Bledisloe One however suggests we may be looking at theory one. That maybe the selectors over the past two years have not been able to re-engine the All Blacks the way they had hoped and instead, we’re dependant on an aging side.
In short, what they thought was rustiness is actually rust. The sort you have to cut out, not bodge over and repaint. Except its too late to do too much work.
Of course there is always a fourth theory. Some players on the slide form wise have been given the proverbial message up the posterior, and the other old timers put on notice. The coaches’ ultimate weapon.
Either way, if the All Blacks don’t fire up and get their share of the ball on Saturday, then the grim prospect looms of the Bledisloe heading to Australia.
And the bloodletting and angst of the last week will look like child’s play.
The matchday 23 is as follows (with Test caps in brackets):
1. Joe Moody (39)
2. Dane Coles (63)
3. Nepo Laulala (18)
4. Patrick Tuipulotu (23)
5. Samuel Whitelock (110)
6. Ardie Savea (37)
7. Sam Cane (62)
8. Kieran Read – captain (120)
9. Aaron Smith (85)
10. Richie Mo’unga (11)
11. George Bridge (3)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (52)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (36)
14. Sevu Reece (1)
15. Beauden Barrett (76)
16. Codie Taylor (43)
17. Ofa Tuungafasi (28)
18. Angus Ta’avao (6)
19. Jackson Hemopo (4)
20. Matt Todd (19)
21. TJ Perenara (57)
22. Ngani Laumape (12)
23. Jordie Barrett (10)
Yes there is a National Provincial Championship underway of course, although Lions’ fans may wish it wasn’t so after the 45-8 demolition by Tasman in the opener.
To be kind, Tasman are not too shabby. Wellington will find much easier prospective foes in Hawke’s Bay, away at Napier, this Friday. They had better win though, because the next game after that is against Canterbury.
That’s life in the Premiership.
NPC Draws & Results HERE
15 August is the 60th anniversary of the biggest rugby crowd in Wellington.
Read more HERE