The message about discipline needing to be improved just isn't getting through to some All Blacks.

The hard men of the All Blacks pack have proven to be a touch obstinate in the last few weeks, choosing to impose themselves with swinging arms and lifted elbows rather than dominant tackles and thunderous ball carries.

The All Blacks hate it when they are accused of being a dirty team or one at least loaded with dirty players.

But these accusations become hard to refute when almost every week in the last month of Super Rugby there has been one of their likely starting players in front of a judiciary explaining themselves.


First Joe Moody charged with his elbow at Kurtley Beale's throat, then Owen Franks wildly flew at James Parsons with his fist always destined to connect with the Blues hooker's head and now Liam Squire faces a nervous weekend after being cited for striking TJ Perenara with his shoulder at a ruck.

With question marks hanging over the availability of some key players due to injury and concerns about the lack of game time enjoyed by others, the last thing the All Blacks coaches needed eight days before they play France, is for Squire to have put himself in danger of being suspended.

It wasn't just his clearout of Perenara which proved problematic - his swinging arm tackle on Julian Savea in Friday night's clash between the Highlanders and Hurricanes was also inexcusably rash.

He's one of the best head on defenders in the game and his power in the tackle is built on the accuracy of his technique.

The swinging arm is hard to square away as a technical aberration and looked more like an ill-advised attempt to let a prominent Hurricanes strike weapon know that he was around.

These are precisely the avoidable acts of recklessness that, if committed in test matches, shift the odds heavily towards the opposition winning.

Joe Moody. Photo / Photosport
Joe Moody. Photo / Photosport

These are precisely the sort of needless, technically weak, mentally dumb acts that All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has ordered his squad to stop.

The All Blacks can't be the team they want to be if they had the opposition a regular supply of three points.

They can't dominate tests if they have to see out periods with a man disadvantage and they can't tell the world they are not a dirty team when they have a near permanent presence in the sin-bin.

It is a worry that the penny isn't dropping as Hansen really has laboured the point and has made it clear that those who can't be trusted to stay on the right side of the law will soon enough feel the cold steel of the selection blade.

At the All Blacks' foundation days earlier this year and then again at their training camps he told the squad that the eight cards picked up last year was unacceptably high and can't be repeated in 2018.

"We reviewed last year and one of the big things that we can fix quickly is avoidable penalties. And you just don't need people being red carded, yellow carded or giving away silly penalties.

"It is about making sensible decisions in the heat of the moment and if we can get that right then we can make opposition teams have to score tries or work harder to get their points."

The sub-text to this, or what is implied, is that if there continue to be serial offenders, it will start to impact on selection.

Those who can't or won't adapt their game to play within the laws will ultimately miss out to those players who can get through 80 minutes without brain explosions or ego rushes that require them to impose themselves in all the wrong ways.