Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: ABs need a 'mare to lose


The interest level in this week's Bledisloe Cup clash has risen following the improved performance of the Wallabies in Argentina but I still can't see them winning in Dunedin. Well, they could, possibly, but only if New Zealand have a nightmare.

The Wallabies played well to beat the Pumas, but a few points have to be made about that. I think the Pumas felt the toll of being in the Rugby Championship. They looked a wee bit tired and were nowhere near as good as they had been against the All Blacks or Springboks.

I wonder if, on top of that, they fancied they had a chance of winning and weren't as steely against the Wallabies as they needed to be. They outscrummaged Australia - really outscrummaged them - and it's a wonder the Wallabies do as well as they do given the troubles they continue to have in that area of the game.

And it's because of their weakness in the tight five that I just can't see them beating the All Blacks. Their underbelly is exposed and, while they have improved, their tight five just aren't that flash.

Where they are dangerous is out wide. They have a good attacking game and the All Blacks will have to be wary of the threat Australia pose in their back three. It's with that threat in mind that I can't agree with the decision to shift Ben Smith to centre, as they say they will do.

He has been outstanding on the wing all season and I wonder why they would want to move him? I'd have been tempted to have tried Ryan Crotty at centre alongside Ma'a Nonu. There is also talk of Cory Jane making a return which, again, I wouldn't necessarily support. I'd probably leave him at home for the summer so he can strengthen his knee and come out firing next season. As I have said, the Australians pose a genuine threat out wide and it would be a risk to throw Jane into battle when he's had so little football since recovering from knee surgery.

Still, what I'm expecting is the All Blacks to hose them down in the forwards and really put the heat on there. I think this game is an opportunity to start Dane Coles, regardless of whether it is indeed Andrew Hore's last test before he retires. Charlie Faumuina has been going well and could withstand more time and I guess the only other uncertainty in the forwards is whether they give Liam Messam a rest or not.

He was unbelievable against South Africa but they may want to see Steve Luatua at blindside, although they may wait until they go to Japan before they bring in younger players.

- Herald on Sunday

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Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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