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

Richard Loe: Scrum strength just eye popping

Charlie Faumuina
Charlie Faumuina

As a prop from a past era, I got a shock last night when the Welsh tighthead Tomas Francis got popped.

His arse went in the air first, which shows poor technique, then he burst out like a big red pimple. As a prop a) it's uncomfortable and b) it's not a good look. I said, 'geez, that's one from the old days' to no one in particular. You used to be able to do that and get away with it. These days you normally get penalised.

Such a solid scrum platform was among the highlights in the All Blacks' comprehensive win.

Charlie Faumuina had a great game at tighthead, and the other changes the selectors made to the starting XV improved rather than detracted from the performance.

Elliot Dixon worked into the game well on debut at blindside flanker, as did centre George Moala until he was injured.

Moala's strong enough to crash through tackles and clever enough to run into gaps and put others away.

Liam Squire also brought energy with half a dozen decent carries in his first five minutes. He looked like he loved breaking ground, making tackles and effectively did nothing wrong.

Of the regulars, Israel Dagg was back to his best and worked well with Ben Smith. They chanced their arm a couple of times, but in the modern game, those guys can do that because they have faith in those running behind them. That's especially the case when Beauden Barrett's at first-five. He takes the ball to the line and you'd have to go back a long way to find a No 10 who would bulldoze over in the tackle with players in support like he did. The more he kept the ball in hand, the more his flair emerged. It varies with the first five-eighth. Lima Sopoaga's more like Barrett, but if it's Aaron Cruden, he does the precise things well in tight tests.

Brodie Retallick's presence is worthy of mention, too. In addition to his core duties, he made about 10 tackles, took the ball up and constantly linked in with movements.

The upshot is the All Blacks coaching staff can build an excellent plan for the Rugby Championship. They can be happy with the team's progress, regardless of what has happened in South Africa or Australia in recent weeks. They can afford to analyse those performances more than their own. Playing last night's tempo against the South Africans would leave the Springboks gagging for air. Against the Australians, they just need to be more dominant up front.

- 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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