030. The All Blacks Team Against South Africa

So Shag has named the team for the must-win match against South Africa.

“Must” win?

Four reasons:

  1. The ultimate winner of the tournament has always gone through undefeated. Always.
  2. The All Blacks have never lost (or even drawn) a Rugby World Cup pool match. Never. That’s 28 matches without a loss. Now would not be a good time to start. Never would be a good time to start.
  3. The loser likely faces Ireland in a quarter-final, while the winner likely faces Japan or Scotland.  I know which side of the draw I’d rather be on.
  4. Ned’s emotional well-being.

The team contains only one maybe surprise, to my eyes.

Of course they’ve gone with the Mo’unga-Barrett combo at 1st five and fullback. Of course they have.  Of course they have B. Smith on the bench to cover fullback and wing.  Of course it’s S. Barrett starting at lock, with Tuiplotu on the bench. Of course it’s Sam at 7 and Ardie at 6. Of course you start with Dane Coles at hooker, to bring the stand your ground from the very first whistle.

The only surpise is Shannon Frizell on the bench rather than Matt Todd.  Which is maybe not a surprise if you think Shag is thinking that the Boks are big boys, so we’re going to need our own big boys right through the 80. No disrespect to Todd, who will tackle until the lights are turned off, but he’s not the size to blast a hole through the Maginot Line.

Which also says – given that Frizell only joined the squad as a replacement when Luke Jacobson was ruled out for concussion symptoms – that they would have had picked Jacobson over Todd as well.

Which in a funny way would have felt to be a bigger call than Frizzell over Todd. Just because we’ve only seen Jacobson in two tests so far, whereas Frizzell has had five.

Anyways. I’m nervouser than a nervous thing about this match.  We need to get out of the blocks real fast if we’re going to grab control of this tournament.

The team is:

  1. Joe Moody
  2. Dane Coles
  3. Nepo Laulala
  4. Sam Whitelock
  5. Scott Barrett
  6. Ardie Savea
  7. Sam Cane
  8. Kieran Read (c)
  9. Aaron Smith
  10. Richie Mo’unga
  11. George Bridge
  12. Ryan Crotty
  13. Anton Lienert-Brown
  14. Sevu Reece
  15. Beauden Barrett
  16. Codie Taylor
  17. Ofa Tuungafasi
  18. Angus Ta’avao
  19. Patrick Tuipulotu
  20. Shannon Frizell
  21. TJ Perenara
  22. SBW
  23. Ben Smith.


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