Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: George Moala puts hand up for future tests

High risk, high reward, said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen in reference to all the changes he made to his team for this final test against Wales, and of them all centre George Moala may have taken home the jackpot.

He remains a work a progress, but, given this was only his second test after he made his debut in Apia 11 months ago against Manu Samoa, a match in which he started on the right wing and scored a try, Moala appears worthy of further investment.

The 25-year-old took advantage of the early chaos around him created mainly by Israel Dagg and Ben Smith, a pair tying the Welsh in knots on the right flank at Forsyth Barr Stadium, but he also created space for himself with his left foot step and the power and strength in his 100kg frame which has earned him the nickname "George of the Jungle", according to Blues team-mate Charlie Faumuina. The way he slipped past Jonathan Davies after the halftime siren proves he has pace as well as power.

The super critical would recommend he hold the ball in two hands and position himself and his teammates into space before passing - rather than running into contact before trying to slip the ball away - but after his up-and-down season at the Blues he should be extremely pleased with his performance because it will almost definitely put him firmly into Hansen's midfield mix.

Listen: Match highlights from the third test

Moala should have scored what would have been a brilliant team try following Ben Smith's break down the right and Dagg's run across the field. He lost the ball in the tackle on that occasion, but made up for it a little later when scoring from close range, something he has done time and again for the Blues.

He was a big part of the All Blacks taking an 18-6 halftime lead - the first time this series they have been ahead at the break.

Unfortunately, he was off shortly after that; replaced after 49 minutes due to an arm injury. It lead to the introduction to centre of Waisake Naholo, his team's only midfield cover on the reserves bench, which represented another roll of the dice by Hansen.

Ryan Crotty's withdrawal shortly afterwards required a major reshuffle, with Lima Sopoaga coming on at No 10, also for his second test, Ben Smith going to second-five, and Beauden Barrett moving to fullback.

By this time the Welsh were out on their feet, with Barrett once again terrorising them, not from off the bench late in the game, but from his new position at the back.

And taking advantage of that pressure late in the game was Liam Squire, another new boy making the most of his opportunity.

The Highlanders loose forward, playing his first test, impressed with an eye-catching cameo off the reserves bench. It was an Ardie Savea-type effort, and Squire, who carried the ball with a Savea-like determination, represented another winning bet for Hansen.

After Wales' long and arduous rugby year, the odds were stacked in his favour, but with a head coaching record with the All Blacks of played 57, won 52, lost three and drawn two, no one can deny he has form in this area.

- NZ Herald

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