Riding the pine: How much impact the bench has

Is the All Blacks bench making a big enough impact once they get on the field? Photo / Getty Images
Is the All Blacks bench making a big enough impact once they get on the field? Photo / Getty Images
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One of rugby's most enduring and engaging debates is the coaches' use of the bench.

At its best, a good reserves' bench will add punch and energy to a team; at its worst, the emptying of the bench can look like a cynical exercise in boosting individual player's test caps.

Measuring the effective of the bench can often be a gut-feel thing.

For example, Beauden Barrett has gained a reputation for being a player who can take advantage of tiring defences in a number of positions, while other players are seen as starters who struggle to make an impact off the pine.

Halfbacks and front-rowers are seen as the most vulnerable to getting the hook, though Aaron Smith has drilled huge holes in that theory with two excellent 80 minutes performances.

Hooker can be a source of frustration, with most accepting that Dane Coles was having a good test in Sydney before being dragged for Keven Mealamu after 52 minutes.

After that the lineout lost its way (one won, two lost), but coaches seem to be uniform in their belief the No 2s cannot play effectively for 80 minutes.

Richard Loe, in his Herald on Sunday column, said the All Black needs more impact from their bench than they got in the first two tests of the Rugby Championship.

RICHARD LOE: BENCH PRESSED TO MAKE A MUCH BIGGER IMPACT

Looking at the stats, from the Herald Rugby Stats Centre with Opta, it is hard to argue against him. Perhaps the statistic that sums up the lack of impact best is that they have conceded more yellow cards than they have score tries or nailed a try assist.

- NZ Herald

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