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

Richard Loe: ABs get new dimension from Smith


The performance of the new boys was one of the definite standouts last night and bodes well for the future.

It was also an early reward for Steve Hansen and his coaching team in their early willingness to blood youngsters.

Obviously Julian Savea was tremendous - showing his finishing skills can be transferred to the test arena - but I was particularly impressed with Aaron Smith.

Sure, he had a decent ride from his forwards but his service from the base of the scrum, ruck or maul was brilliant, especially considering he was on debut, and Daniel Carter and the rest of the backline were grateful recipients. His laser-like pass is going to add a new dimension to All Black play in the coming years.

We didn't see a lot of Brodie Retallick but you don't expect to see a lock showing out and he was solid and did his job.

Another positive aspect was the way Victor Vito complemented the play of Richie McCaw and Kieran Read. He was the perfect foil and extremely accurate in his work around the field.

Everybody talks about him being the replacement for Jerome Kaino but we have to forget about the ex-Blues player; Vito needs to be his own man.

As well as the new breed, it was good to see the 'number ones' stepping up.

Carter's kicking was impeccable and he showed with his option taking, passing and running that he is still a class above any other No 10 on the planet.

There were fears about rustiness but it wasn't really a factor. McCaw, Reid and Carter have so much experience and we also saw the synergy between Crusaders Israel Dagg and Zac Guildford.

I'm sure Robbie Deans would love it if his Wallaby team could hit the ground running in this way.

There was real intensity; it was great to see McCaw laying down the law at one stage after a try and new boys like Savea nodding his head, like every word was gospel.

Overall, you would have to give the All Blacks a seven or eight out of ten for this performance.

Over the next few weeks, they will want to assert more control over every aspect of the game. It is not easy with Ireland because they fight so hard at ruck and maul time that every contest is a genuine scrap.

It is great to have a three test series and will be fascinating to see how it develops.

You would expect the All Blacks to get a lot better over the next two matches as combinations and confidence develop further.

The Irish will need to lift their intensity across the 80 minutes - there were too many lapses last night - but I'm not sure how much improvement they have in them. Unless adverse weather conditions intervene next week I would expect the margin to be considerably higher come next Saturday.

- 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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