Richard Loe on rugby
Richard Loe is a former All Black

Richard Loe: Lock and load youngsters

Charlie Faumuina. Photo / Getty Images
Charlie Faumuina. Photo / Getty Images

I know that we are light on experience when it comes to lock but to be honest, I'm quite comfortable with the overall options the All Blacks will have available in their tight five for the Rugby Championship.

When it comes down to it, locks have to be able to catch in the lineout, push in the scrum and hit rucks. The three young guys used in the June tests - Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Luke Romano - all did that and can all do that pretty well. Yes they are collectively short of experience but look at the overall experience of the front-row: we have two hookers in Andrew Hore and Keven Mealamu who have been around for a long time and have more than 150 tests between them; Tony Woodcock has played nearly 90 tests and Owen Franks, although still young, has been around since 2009.

So I think there is enough basic skills, grunt and experience in the overall unit to feel comfortable and let's not forget that the South Africans are also having to blood young locks at the moment as well after losing both Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha last year.

I guess if we lose one or two to injury then we might have a problem as I didn't feel Jarrad Hoeata did much to enhance his case against the Chiefs on Friday night.

The selectors may even be looking at Craig Clarke ahead of Hoeata at the moment. If they do need to bring in extra resource then Clarke would probably be their first option - he's solid, does all his core skills and that is really what they would be looking for. I don't think they would experiment with something left field - like bringing in Luke Whitelock as lock cover.

Ben Franks has been a little disappointing and he'll be under some pressure to hold his place by the end of year tour.

The rules are going to change in November to allow teams to have eight players on the bench and the eighth man has to be a front-row forward. There will be no need in having props who can play both sides of the scrum. It will be possible to have both a tighthead and a loosehead replacement on the bench.

I'm keen to see Charlie Faumuina given a go with the All Blacks as he would have been in June had injury not intervened. He's close to 130kg and I'd imagine he'd cause some issues against the Wallabies if he was let loose. Ben Afeaki is another big man whose size and strength are natural and I think both of those two as well as Ben Tameifuna could really put the heat on Franks.

Tameifuna is clearly carrying extra weight - he could easily lose 10kg-20kg and still be a good prop.

When he took his shorts off on Friday night you could see he was carrying some extra kilos and if he gets his diet right, that weight could be stripped off him and I think he'd be an intriguing prospect.

- Herald on Sunday

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