Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Beast is out, whippet is in

Cory Jane. Photo / Getty Images
Cory Jane. Photo / Getty Images

Having to rule out Julian Savea, one of the most destructive wings in the game, is a blow for the All Blacks - but the addition of Cory Jane is hardly a weakness.

Steve Hansen now has three fullbacks on the field, three players who are naturally good under the high ball, and three who have extremely high work rates.

The dynamic has changed slightly, but the All Blacks don't need to look far to see the positives.

"Cory Jane brings his own style of game," Hansen said. "He's not as big a guy, obviously, but he's got some special skills.

"It probably improves our high-ball catching, not that Julian is not good at it, but Cory is world class.

"They're just different players. Julian is a beast and Cory, he's a whippet, good on his feet and a great finisher. There will be differences, but they will be subtle. What Cory will bring to the game will enhance us as much as Julian does.

"We're very fortunate we have a world class player ready to take his place."

Hansen would have been planning on being without Savea since early in the week so, as disruptions go, this won't be a big one. Bruising was detected on the inside of the big No 11's knee in a scan on Tuesday afternoon, but the joint had been troubling him for three weeks.

He looked a downcast figure as he left the field during the second half of the Hurricanes' loss to the Blues at Eden Park last weekend, but the body language may have been because of the performance of his team, rather than injury.

His absence won't change the way the All Blacks play - Hansen's men will try for an up-tempo game based on building pressure through holding possession or kick-chase.

Jane, who has played 45 tests, is adept at either approach to the same goal.

In assessing the effect of Savea's withdrawal, fullback Israel Dagg said he could hardly wish for a better replacement than Jane, a player who knows how to make life easier for the last line of defence.

"Obviously Jules can bowl people over and Cory is a little bit smaller than that.

"But Cory is good on his feet and a strong player. He's great in the air and has great instincts."

- NZ Herald

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