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

Richard Loe: Selectors should get the form book out

13 comments
Jordan Taufua could claim a place on the side of the scrum. Photo / Getty Images
Jordan Taufua could claim a place on the side of the scrum. Photo / Getty Images

It's time the All Blacks selectors took some 'risks' and picked their squad to play Wales on form.

I put the word risks in inverted commas because it's not a risk. The depth in New Zealand rugby at the moment is amazing and Steve Hansen and Co could put out a handful of teams that could win.

It would mean, though, that some established All Blacks are vulnerable.

Jerome Kaino ought to be a bit nervous because Elliot Dixon or Jordan Taufua wouldn't look too bad on the side of the scrum, not to mention Brad Shields.

Julian Savea is also in danger, and he didn't help himself by being dropped for last night's game for missing a team curfew.

And there has been a bit of talk about Israel Dagg getting back into the side but, with Ben Smith and Damian McKenzie playing so well, there's no room for him.

I feel Dagg and Cory Jane are yesterday's men.

I think it would send a really good message if the All Blacks selectors rewarded form over past performances and now is the time to do it, a year after a World Cup. Yes, experience is great, but this year presents an opportunity and one they really should take.

Picking the side is a really good problem for Hansen to have. In contrast, coaches of opposition international sides must be thinking, 'bugger'. There will be no vulnerability about the All Blacks.

Take Australia, for example. They're lamenting the departure of Kurtley Beale, who is heading to Wasps, and wondering how they are going to replace him.

Well, the All Blacks will be without Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu, who have both gone offshore, and Sonny Bill Williams, who is playing sevens, but there is no shortage of quality midfielders. You could pick at least one out of each of the five franchises and they would do a good job in a black jersey.

Some established All Blacks are vulnerable. Jerome Kaino ought to be nervous.

The New Zealand teams are pushing the boundaries and producing matches like Friday night's blockbuster between the Highlanders and Crusaders. Counter that with games between two South African teams and they are as boring as goat shit.

Friday's game showed just how important every New Zealand derby is and I think we were probably watching the top two sides in New Zealand.

They appear to have more potential to go further than the Chiefs, who are starting to stutter. They have a few injuries and have used up a few get-out-of-jail cards.

A few people around Christchurch have trundled out the excuse the Crusaders suffered because they had to drive to Dunedin on Friday and arrived late after their plane was diverted because of weather. That's rubbish. They still had a day to recover and were simply outplayed by the Highlanders.

Each individual in Jamie Joseph's side is doing the job they are meant to do and it breeds confidence in players to be able to push passes and trust someone will be there to take it. Equally, there's no dwelling on things if it doesn't come off.

It's a great sign for the All Blacks.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- 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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