It really wasn't a bad year...

Beauden Barrett on the way to scoring one of his four tries against the Wallabies. Photo: Getty...
Beauden Barrett was brilliant in scoring four tries and 30 points against the Wallabies. Photo: Getty Images
The All Black season has come to an end. While not a vintage year, it was far from the disaster many are painting. Rugby writer Steve Hepburn hands out a few awards.

Best player
Hooker Codie Taylor

Codie Taylor. Photo: Getty Images
Codie Taylor. Photo: Getty Images

With Dane Coles missing in action, Taylor more than took the step up. He raised his game a significant level and Coles will find it hard to get back into the starting side.

Most improved player
Loose forward Ardie Savea

It has taken a while but Savea finally took the chance when it arrived through the absence of Sam Cane. One of the best in the last few tests.

Best individual performance
Beauden Barrett

Scoring 30 points including four tries in the Bledisloe Cup test in Auckland was a fine effort. Damian McKenzie also played a top hand in the beating of the French at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Best team performance
No one match stands out but the 38-13 demolition of the Wallabies in Sydney in the first game of the Rugby Championship was a solid effort.

Must do better
Jordie Barrett

The chosen one looked a mere mortal at times and there are some chinks in his game which got exposed. Has talent but needs more consistency in his game.

Worst team performance
36-34 loss to South Africa

Way too many brain explosions that night in Wellington from too many.

Three questions
1. Did the big win against Italy prove anything at all?

2. Should Sam Whitelock have even gone on the end-of-year tour?

3. What was the point of Matt Todd going on tour?

Kieran Read (left) and Steve Hansen. Photo: Getty Images
Kieran Read (left) and Steve Hansen. Photo: Getty Images

Looney tunes
The things said after the loss to Ireland - and the reality

1. Sack Kieran Read - he had a poor game against Ireland and his best days are probably behind him. But he is still the best we have.

2. Sack Steve Hansen - ain't going to happen. Lost by a try to Ireland. If the All Blacks played like Ireland, Hansen would have been run out of town years ago.

3. Bring in Richie Mo'unga - Mo'unga has started one competitive test and played not that well in that. Beauden Barrett was world player of the year two years in a row.

4. Bring back Wayne Smith - Perhaps, but is that in any way likely? How about getting the offside line right and get defensive players back two metres.

5. Give Ngani Laumape a chance - so a hard-running one-dimensional midfielder is going to help against strong defensive sides? Ditto with Ma'a Nonu.

6. Put Scott Barrett at blindside - in a tight game, perhaps. But in warmer climes and a faster game, sorry, Barrett is probably not dynamic enough. Leave him at lock.

7. All went wrong since Richie left - no-one was saying that when we pumped every other team in the past two years.



Speaking of Loony Tunes, the logic surrounding Mo'unga certainly fits the bill — because he hasn't started many tests in the past, that's a sufficient reason for him not starting in the future either...

Uh huh.