I eagerly await the naming of the All Black test team to play the Springbok. It will be a strong indication of the ‘A’ Team who will carry the flag at the RWC.
Hansen and co need to build combinations. It’s vital for continuity and will give us the edge we need to win the cup. There are 4 or 5 teams who can match us in set play and the breakdown, but continuity is the key to avoiding the breakdown and there is no team in the world better than the All Blacks at that game.
First things first, we need to beat the Bok this week. It’s a precursor to our opening match in the RWC and a win will give us a psychological advantage. The selectors will be asking themselves this question: In the match against Argentina who put their hand up to say ‘pick me in the A team.’
There are three contentious areas: the front row, the loose forwards and the midfield backs.
In the loosies, Savea stood out once again. He was everywhere a No. 8 should be – in the fight to retain and regain possession and roaming wide in general play with explosive energy. He’s in my team starting at openside, with Kieran Read retaining the captaincy and the No. 8 position. Kieran needs to lift his game to the level we know he can play to reassure us all he still has it.
The core role of a blindside flanker is to make an impact in defence and attack. Fifita is capable of this but he did not show it last week and I would expect Frizell to take this role against the Bok.
The midfield will change this week too. The outsides received very little ball in space against Argentina and this is the core role of the midfield. I’m expecting to see Goodhue back at centre and I imagine the selectors will opt for SBW. Personally, I’d prefer to see Lienert-Brown because he makes better decisions in both attack and defence and fewer mistakes.
The props pick themselves with Franks and Moody returning. No one really stood out last week. Will it be Coles or Taylor? I’m happy with either.