Baffled as Barrett bumps Bender at back

Joe Moody with Sam and Luke Whitelock at All Blacks training this week. Photo: Getty Images
Joe Moody with Sam and Luke Whitelock at All Blacks training this week. Photo: Getty Images
The All Blacks are about to roll out for another year. Rugby writer Steve Hepburn asks a few questions and seeks a few answers.

Jeepers, Jordie

Jordie Barrett in action at an All Blacks training session at Mt Smart in Auckland this week....
Jordie Barrett in action at an All Blacks training session at Mt Smart in Auckland this week. Photo Getty Images
Now, we all fall in love with things. Get stuff all out of proportion. Some people will go to the ends of the earth for chocolate milk. But this lovefest around Jordie Barrett has gone too far.

The guy has got talent, there is no doubt about that. But he is far from the finished product. He makes plenty of errors and misses tackles like most of us.

Most importantly, though, Ben Smith is simply a better fullback than Jordie Barrett. Why not put the late-night hamburger muncher on the wing and put the world’s best fullback actually at fullback?

While we are on the Taranaki first family, does anyone else have a dislike of the way Scott Barrett plays the game? Is he morphing into the Wyatt Crockett of the locking world?

Luke rises

When Luke Whitelock signed for the Highlanders it would be fair to say the pulses in the South did not significantly quicken. He was a steady ship but there were others in the fleet with more powerful weapons.

But the No 8 has risen in value and now gets his big chance.

He will have to bring more to the table in being more dynamic and a stronger physical presence.

Whitelock has been on the improve over the past 18 months and you wouldn’t bet against him playing atop hand, startingtomorrow night.

He will have to play out of his skin, though, as he is keeping the seat warm for skipper Kieran Read.

One year to go

With just over 12 months until the World Cup in Japan, that event will be referenced after every game and every series.

Now, we know it is important to win not only to stroke the ego but to keep the powers and sponsors happy, but it is next year.

The best way to prepare for the World Cup and also deflect any worries about it is to go out and win every game.

Harder this time around

Not many have noticed this but there is a better class of player running around the fields in Australia and South Africa this year.

That has been helped by the dumping of teams but players have matured and got used to thespeed of the game. But whether these players can take the next step to test standard is still the big question.

But some of them should. We will get a decent answer over the next three weeks when the sides face up to somedecent northern hemisphere opposition.

Comments

Yes, I was surprised Ben Smith was nt at 15, if Hansen wanted to give Jordie a starting place why not put him on the wing. Otherwise we ve got some good rugby on offer in NZ and overseas in the next 3 weeks, its crazy though World rugby can t find a way to start internationals after the super final.

 

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