The test against Italy may have created more selections ideas
than the All Blacks panel envisaged.
With no reports of serious injury, fullback, wing, halfback,
lock, blindside flanker and hooker will be the areas for more
intense thought before the side to play Wales is chosen.
Israel Dagg is reported to be recovering from his buttocks
damage but in the event of continuing drama, Cory Jane
reminded the panel of his value at the back.
When he came on as a sub, he handled the high ball with his
usual aplomb, played well positionally and glided across the
park, bringing Julian Savea and Hosea Gear more into the test
from the wings.
That is a possible back three if Dagg is not fit and would
set two big wings against Wales super-sized wings. Otherwise
there is little between the work of Savea and Gear if one has
to be laid off.
At halfback, Aaron Smith had another match where he was
roughed up more than the coaching staff would appreciate and
his team-mates should allow.
If Wales also pursue that tactic then Weepu's stronger frame
might be better to absorb an early Wales frenzy before Smith
is brought on to up the tempo. It is an idea, but it does
veer away from the All Blacks strategy to play up tempo from
Brodie Retallick was one of the forwards who made his mark.
He benched a kick-off and shelled a pass, but he was also
very busy. His workrate was high, his side of the scrum was
effective and there was an edge to his play that others
For the last quarter, Victor Vito warmed up on a stationary
bike but never hopped off the pedals to play.
Meanwhile, Liam Messam worked hard on the blindside but
several times ran away from his support or seemed to lose his
lines. He, like a few others, looked a touch out of sync.
That should put Vito into the frame for blindside as a robust
selection topic. Hooker may be decided by the medics.
Keven Mealamu felt something awry with his calf and retired,
now his regular selection sparring with Andrew Hore may be
decided by the check-up reports.