Richard Loe 's Opinion

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

Richard Loe: All Blacks must smash Wallabies early and game is in the bag

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The All Blacks front row. Photo / Getty Images
The All Blacks front row. Photo / Getty Images

Most people are picking a close match tonight between the All Blacks and the Wallabies - but I don't think so.

I think this could be a win to the All Blacks by 13 points or more but it could just as easily be the same score to the Australians.

I say that because I think both sides have picked pretty much the best team they can, both have injury problems, and if you want a blueprint for how to win this game, you only have to go back to the first Bledisloe Cup match this season at Eden Park and then the last one, in Brisbane. In the first, the All Black forwards came steaming out of the gates, got on top early and smashed the Aussies backwards behind the gain line. They will take David Pocock more out of the game if they do that and keep the Aussie loose forwards Rocky Elsom and Radike Samo busy too.

That to me is the winning of the game - and you saw it too when the Wallabies did the same thing to the All Blacks in Brisbane.

It will be all down to who does it better, quicker and most efficiently. Every kick will have to be accurate and followed up - and at Eden Park that time, there seemed to be about 101 chasers after each kick. The all Blacks have to give dangerous players like Kurtley Beale, Digby Ioane, James O'Connor and Quade Cooper no time to hatch their mischief.

The All Blacks also should not be afraid to take a leaf out of the Ireland book and hold up the Aussie ball carriers to get the turnover at the maul too - they didn't seem to like that or combat it well.

The only thing that worries me is the scrum - not because we have a fault there but because Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu and Owen Franks are getting to the top of their form now and the work they gave the Puma scrum was heartening.

No, what worries me is that the referee might let the game even up by allowing the Australians to collapse and re-set all the time.

However, I must say that I think we have our No 1 pack out there and I have a good feeling about how they are going to go. They will all be up for this - particularly that front row, Brad Thorn and Richie McCaw, who must be sick of hearing Pocock's name now. As for the backs, I know a lot of people are sounding off about Stephen Donald being there - but it's time to get over all that now. I haven't been Donald's greatest fan either but, come on - who else is there? We have broken two top first fives; there's no one else left.

All those fans saying that Weepu should play at 10 are off beam.

The selectors have clearly decided that playing Weepu at 9 is their best shot. I agree and who wouldn't after his display against he Pumas? They have also decided that playing Aaron Cruden at 10 is better than Jimmy Cowan or Andy Ellis at 9 - and, again, I have to agree.

Cowan hasn't been in the best of form and is not really an impact player off the bench; he's a starter. You'd also have to say that the whole team is defensively adept - so why do we need a halfback who is more of an extra loose forward? I think what the selectors have done is better - get Ellis onto the bench as he can offer something different when he comes on and is also better at clearing his pass.

Those who say keep Donald out of it and shift Weepu to 10 if Cruden goes off have missed the fact that Weepu starts to run out of puff after 60-70 minutes. If he is at 10 in that condition, would he offer any more than a fit and in form Donald?

Finally, my thoughts are with Mark Hammett. Look at the All Black backline - Weepu, Cruden, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Cory Jane; Hurricanes all and this from the franchise that had the greatest internal strife of the year. If they'd sneaked Hosea Gear in there instead of Kahui, they'd have an all-Hurricanes backline except for Israel Dagg.

I'm just teasing, Hammer, - if anything this just shows how Super Rugby form does not translate into internationals.

- Herald on Sunday

Richard Loe

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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