For NZ to win a third consecutive RWC Kieren Reid will need to play at his very best. If he does he will retire as one of the great No. 8s of All Black rugby.
The All Black squad to contest RWC Japan has only one perceived weakness. It’s at blindside flanker where we lack the Jerry Collins, Jerome Kaino style player who can make an impact as an abrasive ball carrier and defender.
The selectors looked at a number who were contesting that mantle: Fifita, Squire, Frizell and Hemopo. For one reason or another these players were all found wanting and the selectors opted for three openside flakers: Kane, Savea and Todd. This places a huge amount of responsibility on Kieren Reid to be the power player two wide of the contact area. He has the ability, and on occasions he can split the defence with the explosive power we need to produce ball over the advantage line.
The All Blacks failed to produce go forward ball against South Africa in Wellington and again against Australia in Perth. This all changed a week later against Australia at Eden Park when we held possession for long periods of play. Our backs were running on to the ball. They played like champions.
Go forward ball is the key to exploit any opponent and Kieren is the only loose forward who has the physical means to get over the advantage line continually against South Africa to win this game.
He will have to do it again in the quarters and the semis if we’re going to make the final.