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

Richard Loe: Every test is now also a trial

Ali Williams is not up to his best. Photo / Getty Images
Ali Williams is not up to his best. Photo / Getty Images

Watching the game last night - in what felt like a freezer in Wellington - I think the All Blacks coaches would have seen a few more of the ingredients they need for their World Cup starting team; mainly form players and high work rates. Last week they went through the motions too much against Fiji - they needed to step up, and did. Every time anyone goes out this year in a Tri Nations test they are on trial.

A concern for me was Ali Williams. I think he had another average game. You look at the past few weeks; he was going well then played poorly against the Reds and Fiji. By his standards I'd suggest the Springboks test was another poor one, compared to what he's been capable of in the past.

Out wider Ma'a Nonu stepped up but I felt like Conrad Smith stepped back. You then had two wingers do exactly what was required, score tries. You'd have to give Zac Guildford and Cory Jane a tick.

I thought Adam Thomson went okay at No8. In fact a couple of mates said he was their player of the day.

When you're impressing the general public it's a good indication you've played well. He probably secures his place as the fourth loose forward.

The front row boys did okay - especially Andrew Hore - hopefully there is nothing too wrong with his shoulder. Wyatt Crockett has come a long way this year and has done enough to hold his own until Tony Woodcock tries to play himself into form. It's probably a toss of the coin between Ben Franks and John Afoa. Franks is not as dominant as his brother; he's an adequate prop but did put in a few good hits that I saw.

Looking at the opposition and seeing their limited capabilities; it was a messy first half that verged on boring. The try the Springboks scored shouldn't have happened, just like the two Fiji picked up last week. I know it's still a way out from the World Cup but these are test matches and there's still tidying up to do.

I wasn't overly impressed with the set piece either. I thought the All Blacks scrummaged well but the Springboks weren't particularly aggressive. We did okay in the lineouts but if we were meant to be so much better and the Springboks so poor then I'd like to have seen more dominance. If they've got 22 people at a rehabilitation camp or whatever it's called, their first XV is going to be a lot better.

In fact it's amazing how we look at the World Cup now. Nothing would have got in the way of it, say two tournaments ago, but all three countries are now using it as a warm-up which makes you wonder whether these matches should be awarded test status.

As for the new jersey, well, someone said "it's quite retro" but I don't mind that. It's a fairly short white collar but I've got no issues. It's not slapping the face of tradition. The same goes for when someone asked me about the coloured boots last week. They said we've never done that before and I assured them we had. Even before I was an All Black, adidas came out with fluorescent stripes. Gary Knight and John Ashworth wore those sorts of boots for goodness sake and no one would've given them too much stick. From memory the forwards had luminous green stripes and the backs had orange ones. I think Fiji came out here years ago in white boots, too. It's nothing revolutionary.

- 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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