• No, Scott Barrett isn't a dirty player but would brother Beauden like to clarify if that portfolio belongs to hooker Dane Coles and will he be enforcing that in bringing out the mongrel in the All Blacks on Saturday?
• Malicious intent or not, Scott Barrett's shot at Wallaby skipper Michael Hooper is about zero tolerance, if what ex-AB Steve Devine's account of head injuries is anything to go by.
Has All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's speech started slurring a little more than usual with the Rugby World Cup around the corner or am I just imagining it?
Is the Tim Tam billboard frontman beginning to "lose his biscuit" a little?
Mmm ... I'd prefer to think Shag is a little vexed but, like most elite mentors, he can do everything conceivably possible bar hold his players' hands at the height of the battle on the park.
My preoccupation isn't with him but with the Chicken Little Syndrome that has taken hold of Kiwi fans, in apocalyptic proportions, after the 47-26 flogging at the hands of the Wallabies in Perth on Saturday.
If anything, take your hats off to Hansen for breaking from tradition earlier this year to declare everything else leading up to the World Cup as trinkets. In elevating the status of the Bledisloe Cup matches against Australia, it seems, he was intimating his starting XV falling into place more than protecting the team's world No 1 status.
I wonder what the late Sir Brian Lochore would have made of all of that, considering his hilarious first impression of former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry as a then schoolteacher.
My take was going to be Rugby 2, All Blacks 0 but the three-week verdict on Scott Barrett's reckless and dangerous no-arms tackle on Aussie skipper Michael Hooper, seconds before halftime, means a "VAR referral" scores 1-0 only because World Rugby, again, has reportedly cowered in the face of criticism to uphold a four- to six-week ban.
It's a bad look for New Zealand when Beaudy Barrett resorts to bromance on how Scott isn't a dirty player, especially when he himself came under scrutiny amid "cheating" allegations in the Rugby Championship.
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Besides, it's a bit like TV presenter Laura McGoldrick coming off silly mid-off, wagging her finger at keyboard warriors for putting her hubby, under-achieving Black Caps opening batsman Martin Guptill, to the sword during the ODI Cricket World Cup in England.
Hey Beaudy, do you think hooker Dane Coles is a dirty player?
Coles, whose on-field indiscretions stick out like turbines on approaching Meridian Energy's Te Apiti Wind Farm on the Manawatu Gorge, fronted the media scrum to share the ABs' soul-searching exercise.
Is it fair to assume Coles will lead a knuckle-dusting riot to restore some parity in the All Blacks' physicality stakes when part two of the Bledisloe Cup kicks off at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday night?
Here's the harsh reality. The ABs are prone to a rush of blood to the head as much as any other team. Just ask Ardie Savea how lucky he was to stay on the park in the 13th minute after slapping Hooper on the back of the head, when the passage of play had stopped, as the Aussie lay face down.
It would have been a yellow card every other day but, you see, the rules mutate to "tiddly winks" when top-tier nations come out to play, although Australia have since claimed their skipper was "targeted".
Said Marshall, despite Hooper and Wallaby halfback Nic White reacting: "It wouldn't be a Bledisloe Cup without some aggro in there between friendly neighbours."
It's pathetic to start alluding to snippets of Wales' blunders, pointing out Aussie neck rolls or trying to justify Scott's action during a kangaroo court sitting where England coach Eddie Jones presides.
That's tantamount to Hansen trying to pass off Beaudy's penalty-kick purchase against the Springboks as: "Is it right? Probably not but they all do it."
If coaches — who seem to be establishing a World Cup insurance policy to ensure players aren't sent off in the playoffs — have reservations about certain aspects of the rules then address it via proper channels, not start grizzling when the proverbial hits the fan.
Thank you Hansen's 2IC, Ian Foster, for clarity on ABs taking their medicine over Scott.
You see, the ABs are the hallmark of what the world should aspire to in rugby-dom but they also, by default, have become the yardstick for others, justifiably so, to take the moral high ground.
Scott Barrett must be lauded for walking off the park muttering under his breath — when juxtaposed with a howling Sonny Bill Williams — as only the fourth AB to have ever received a red card. Again, how few of them have had that treatment — hark back to as far as the days of Richard Loe, Allan Whetton, Ali Williams — says more about the Kiwis' stranglehold on officialdom than it does on some warped sense of perception the ABs are the epitome of fair play.
Let's take a few passes from the base of Marshall's scrum now, shall we?
"It was reckless more than intentional," he said of Scott's strike on the noggin, which sets out to desensitise the act akin to legal jargon of "which collected the back of the head".
"He didn't hurt Michael Hooper in any real way," Marshall argued, as one would with the promise of an invite to the NZRFU end-of-season tuxedo, champagne dinner.
Is the former ABs halfback the new Murray Mexted of TV commentating?
I say for a more sensible insight on why the Scott shot should draw zero tolerance, switch to another former ABs halfback, Steve Devine, who so eloquently catches the drift on The Check, on TV1 on Monday at 8pm.
Devine likened his playing state to "sleep running", reflecting on how he made it home from training nights only to wake up in the hallway to realise it was time to return to training the next day.
In Saturday's test it was obvious Savea, deemed to be playing "dumb rugby", and Scott Barrett, were under immense pressure but that frustration stemmed from a collective inability to fire. It's something the ABs aren't accustomed to.
Conversely, the Wallabies and coach Michael Cheika deserve credit for their part in rattling the ABs.
It's comical listening to commentators jumping into captain Kieran Read's corner with certificates of appraisal on his performance.
Seriously? If anything where was Read?
In fact, the ABs scrum only got into a groove when Savea had moved from flanker to No 8 although the frontrow looks shaky.
It brings back memories of ex-skipper Sean Fitzpatrick relegating hooker Norm Hewitt to the bench. I don't suspect Savea will take to the booze or start smashing glass doors any time soon but on-field ill discipline through frustration can become an issue.
Lock Brodie Retallick is sorely missed but to make him indispensable will relegate the ABs to a one-piston machine.
To blame career fullback Ben Smith is equally myopic in a Shag experiment where versatility is championed.
It seems as if the ABs are falling into the trap of the Black Caps in trying to procure allrounders at the expense of specialists.
Either way, to carry on bitching and belly aching will only saddle fans with the "whingeing Kiwis" tag.
Now we can't have that, can we?