- By Kevin McCarthy
Are you confused by the first two rounds of the Rugby Championship. Two things – don’t worry, it’s over soon. And yes, it’s okay to be confused. That is after all the point.
Neither of the teams that played out the 16-all draw on Saturday are remotely interested in much being clear at this stage, to the opposition at least.
So don’t expect the team that the All Blacks field in their world cup opener against the Boks to be the same. Nor the approach. Nor the degree of intensity.
It would indeed be madness to hit on the first team so early and play them from now till the tournament. There’s plenty of confidence and experience from the past two or three seasons for a team of many parts to be fielded, depending o the opposition or injury.
So will Richie Mo’unga start at 10 and BB at 15 long-term? Who knows but nothing on Saturday suggests it will be a regular fixture. Mo’unga struggled when his pack struggled, as does BB, and Beauden is a danger from the back – as if we didn’t know that.
Why is BB kicking for goal when Mo’unga is probably the better of the two (though there’s much less in it than you’d think)? Hard to know.
How come Sonny Bill is being put out to Mitre 10 pasture until Bled II? Is this about his lack of a gallop – which it presumably is. Because he really needs to be playing a lot more top rugby this close to the World Cup don’t you think?
One thing not to be confused about though is that Saturday’s game was irrelevant. Its tempting to think so, but for one thing – South Africa and the All Blacks after three recent matches are now inseparable results wise.
Not sure that means the Boks have the edge, but they will have a ton of confidence – the most of any side at the World Cup – that they can take the All Blacks to the edge.
No side plays formidably than South Africa on confidence. They’re back.
There’s something symbolic in the curious contract of Jordie Barrett – the one year here, the next year who knows where.
That pretty much sums up his career. Because he’s clearly multi-talented, he’s spent a lot of time being Mr Versatile. The Hurricanes used him to plug backline injury gaps, and the All Blacks strangely spied him as a wing option.
It must do Jordie’s head in. So here’s to a season where he and his coach agree on where he plays and he gets to string together time there.
The words coming out of Steve Hansen’s mouth suggest Barrett won’t be going to the World Cup. And that might be the sort of clear signal that the young man actually deserves to hear more of.