It's time for Israel Dagg to make way because this is Ben Smith country.
Look, there are a few things about the All Black selections that I find hard to follow, which is not a criticism. It's just that to these eyes, they appear random, without pattern. Which is another way of saying that the selectors will always have plans that the rest of us aren't fully privy to, especially in a World Cup year because they only tell us so much. There might be other selections I don't agree with, but they are close-run things.
But there's one selection that just doesn't make sense at all and that's at fullback. Ben Smith is the best No 15, surely. He's a living, breathing, in-form wonder in the position, a man at the top of his game. Smith is decisive, energetic and dangerous from the back where he plays best. He's wasted on the wing, and got lost there against South Africa at Ellis Park.
Smith the fullback gets involved on attack, opponents can't put him down, he makes great tackles, covers brilliantly, snaffles bombs, chases superbly, makes sharp decisions. This persistence with Dagg, who is well past a prime he never had for very long anyway, is the one selection that just doesn't make sense.
The injury-dogged Dagg wasn't awful, but he wasn't all that good either and left a couple of team mates in trouble with laboured, poor decisions on Sunday. Playing Smith on the flank also means that some brilliant match-winning wing prospects like Charles Piutau could miss out. Ellis Park was an opportunity lost with regards to Ben Smith the fullback and building combinations around him.
About the only thing that gets put up in Dagg's favour is his punting. But Smith can kick a ball and a few extra metres - if that is what it is - from Dagg does not make up for the things in which Smith is absolutely superior.
Steve Hansen and the other selectors make very few mistakes. They get so much right, and they aren't always with obvious moves. The injection of fresh blood so close to the World Cup is brave and brilliant.
But Israel Dagg ahead of Ben Smith? I just don't get that. The All Blacks were bang on in promoting Smith in the first place, when some of us doubted he was test grade. But since then, they've dropped the ball. He's been mucked about, and even tried at centre, to cover for Conrad Smith's holiday.
Ben Smith has earned the chance to establish himself in his best position, and it's in the All Blacks' interests that he does so. But I suppose that's just another World Cup opinion. We've all got our bugbears. I'd love to know what the selectors' real thinking on the subject is - it can't only be the punting business.
Push against scrum nonsense
The no-contest scrums at Ellis Park were a farce. It's a rule that needs changing at the highest level, and quick. The modern day test teams travel the world with planes creaking with players. Yet they still manage to run out of enough front rowers to ensure that an essential part of the game can always take place. Just imagine a World Cup final ending that way. Get it sorted, troops.
Warriors already a spent force
The Warriors' NRL season was over before the erratic superstar Shaun Johnson got badly dinged.
The writing was on the wall, unfortunately. The Warriors were already going the same way against Manly as they had done previous week, against the Roosters. Manly, poor old Manly, were far too good. Sadly, this Warriors squad won't bid for the title even if they do cling to a top eight spot, which looks unlikely.
They won't match Johnathan Thurston's Cowboys, the Rabbitohs and co. Not a chance. Another year, another mirage. Issac Luke's brilliant dummy half running will make a big difference next year, as will Roger Tuivasa-Sheck's electric footwork from the back. Yes, yes, you've heard it all before. Guilty as charged. I fall for the Warriors' alleged charms most years. At least they are better than the Blues, which isn't saying much, or anything at all.