Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Send the All Blacks into the Lions' Dens

All Blacks prop Joe Moody tackle that led to a yellow card against Ireland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
All Blacks prop Joe Moody tackle that led to a yellow card against Ireland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

To start with, a random and not fully explored thought. There's probably a lot of holes in it, but the overall concept is really exciting to my mind.

Is it time to consider and press for the All Blacks playing regular away series against individual teams from the Home Countries and France, and even the Lions? Series have provided the most fascinating of rugby contests, but they are skewed because the super-strong All Blacks always have home advantage against the northern mob. An instant re-match against Ireland after Chicago would have been brilliant.

Or further still, what about the British and Irish Lions changing their status to allow a four-test series at home against the All Blacks, at the wonderful test grounds in England, Ireland Scotland and Wales. Mind you, the battle over gate takings might be tastier than the rugby itself.

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Dropped. Remember that word, when rugby wasn't just another playground for corporate speak.

Players used to get axed after poor performances, and even out of the blue. Even the greats could be bladed, with not a press release in sight.

Maybe we will get to re-live what was once an essential part of following the All Blacks when they front up in Dublin next week intending to vent their wrath on the fully suspecting Irish.

There are players who deserve to be dropped after a rotten effort in Chicago, where the Irish gunned down the All Blacks in the old home of Al Capone. We'll have to wait a week for the Soldier Field repercussions though.

In the old parlance, this Sunday's game against Italy is like a non-test fixture on one of those old tours when the players out numbered the touring officials - including coaches - by about 24 - 4.

Aaron Smith and Joe Moody should be in the selection firing line for the Ireland re-match. Smith was hopeless on his return in Chicago. Even the halftime re-adjustments failed - his passing hit the skids early in the second half and he was hooked.

If rugby really cared about savage injuries, Moody would have been suspended for an awful spear tackle on Robbie Henshaw. Moody's ill-discipline badly hurt the All Blacks, and he didn't play well anyway. Smith and Moody are among those who need to be dropped. Yes DROPPED.

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Scott Barrett scored one of the great tries on debut, and one that would have gone into treasured lore had the All Blacks won. Barrett is a forward with the physique and skills which make him capable of starting and also having impact off the bench.

In contrast, the All Blacks were, in a way, undone by their previous success this year. They have an explosive bench, with players like Patrick Tuipulotu and Liam Square to call on. But those players are still primarily 30 minute impact men, of bulky builds, rather than high work rate starters in the Brodie Retallick and Jerome-Kaino-in-his prime mould.


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And now, for boxing...

Dear ATEED members,
It's not too late to jump on the Joseph Parker bandwagon and back his fight with Andy Ruiz. If you can't see the promotional value a world heavyweight title fight brings to Auckland, you need to find another job. Boxing is legal. You are not our moral guardians, and boxing is a wonderful sport to a lot of fans anyway.

If boxing's brutality is the problem...
Many sports have consequences. Just ask all the rugby players who are dealing with the long term effects of concussion. Then again, don't ask them, because they are beyond knowing what the hell you will be talking about.

Consider the bodies and rubbish piling up on Mt Everest after Sir Edmund Hillary put it on the world's bucket list. Check out the damage pesticide-flooded golf courses cause. Pop down to A and E and find out how out how much time and space weekend warriors with bicycles are taking up.

More than anything, you may need to start hanging around in different circles, so you can represent the whole of the city in promoting events and festivals.

Yes, fight promoters Duco are trying to make money, just as New Zealand Rugby which got your 2011 World Cup support is obsessed with making money.

Dear, dear ATEED members. The late withdrawal of support for Duco is unprofessional. You do well in backing a variety of sports and arts but in this case you have drawn a silly line in the wrong place. We are a country of free choice and a lot of us choose boxing, which is our right.
Regards

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On the subject of the Joseph Parker-Andy Ruiz fight, Vector Arena is a gem. It is an amazing all-purpose venue fit for hosting everything from a faith healer to a world title fight, with great music, basketball etc. etc... in between. On a personal note, it will always bring reminders of an amazing and almost spiritual Leonard Cohen concert. Auckland sport doesn't have a stadium crown, but Vector is a jewel.

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Here is a suggestion for league. It needs outside help if it is to boost the international game. The Four Nations isn't working - the interest in New Zealand is hovering around zero.

League has gone out of its way, literally. The pre-tournament showdown between the Kiwis and Kangaroos was held in non-league Perth. Their Four Nations encounter was held in non-league Coventry, at a classy mid-sized stadium which was about one third full. The atmosphere was atrocious.

One of the four nations, Scotland, isn't a league nation at all. New Zealand is about to play Scotland, in Workington. Yes, it's Workington 1, New Zealand 0 in terms of league tests staged in 2016. If the Kiwis do retain the trophy there will be a few days of fanfare in New Zealand. If they fail, no one will give a hoot. FYI, international league.

- NZ Herald

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