Two former internationals have called for changes to the All Blacks’ back three as New Zealand rugby world cup team prepare to redeem themselves against the Springboks this weekend. Having failed in a 26-10 loss to South Africa in Nelspruit last Saturday, the All Blacks have everything to play for at Ellis Park in Johannesburg in a few days.
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In the midst of poor form, which has seen them lose three Tests in a row and five of their last six, the Kiwis are under enormous pressure to get a successful return clash with the Springboks. It has been widely reported that head coach Ian Foster is relying on this to keep his position at the helm of a national team that is in danger of losing the Liberty Cup to the Springboks for the first time since 2009.
With all that in mind, former All Blacks prostitute James Parsons and ex-All Blacks lock Maori Joe Wheeler are keen to see some changes in the New Zealand roster to achieve long-awaited success. Speaking at the Aotearoa Rugby Pod, Parsons and Wheeler pointed to the All Blacks’ trio of outside guards as an area where they would like to see some of that change.
Parsons, who tested twice for the All Blacks between 2014 and 2016, said he wants Will Jordan to switch from wide to fullback, while Wheeler is aiming for a completely revamped back three. Wheeler, a five-time spokesperson for the Maori All Blacks, said the new-look trio of Jordan, Boden Barrett and Jordy Barrett would somehow negate the aerial threat posed by the Springboks, which proved to be a problem for the All Blacks at Nelspruit.
“The high ball was our biggest concern and challenge over the weekend and I think our top three high ball representatives are Geordie, Will Jordan and Boden Barrett, said Wheeler Aotearoa Rugby Pod. We saw him [Boden] obviously had his legs ripped out [from under him] [by Kurt-Lee Ahrendse’s Springboks wing], but he’s fearless in the air. He gets up as well as everyone else, and I would like to see him in the role of a three-back.”
It’s unclear which of these players – all of whom are in critical condition due to injuries and illnesses – Wheeler will be in each of the three winger positions, with all three players having both wing and wing experience. Primarily a top-five player, Boden Barrett was often used by Foster as a fullback and he was also used on the wing leading up to and during the 2015 Rugby World Cup under former All Blacks boss Sir Steve Hansen.
Younger brother Geordie has been a full-time All Black defender since last year but has played all-back throughout his career, finding himself on the right wing, second and top-fifth on the international stage. Jordan, meanwhile, has been used exclusively as a right winger at Test level, but has established himself as an outstanding defender during his time with the Crusaders in Super Rugby.
However, the selection of these three as New Zealand’s outside defenders would result in the dismissal of Caleb Clark, who made a powerful return to Test rugby against the Springboks after a two-year hiatus. Clarke was one of the few All Blacks to shine this past weekend, but Wheeler told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod he would be comfortable dropping a six-test wing to defuse South Africa’s tall balls.
“I know Caleb Clark was amazingly good, but I just feel like we need to try and defuse this controversial kicking threat that the South Africans have, Wheeler said. To give us the best chance of doing that – yes, we can work better as hitters and blockrunners, but we also need better high ball players who fearlessly get under that ball, get up and fight for that ball, and not just half-stand up.”
Wheeler added that moving Boden Barrett, if able, to full-backs would allow Richie Mounga to go wide in the top five. Actually I would like to see how it is three quarterbacks and give Richie Mounga a crack at 10 just to try and show something a little different.
“Obviously it depends a bit on Boden and Geordie and I don’t know how bad Boden’s neck is or how bad Geordie’s ankle is, but I would like to see some changes in that area of our game.”
Parsons called Jordan New Zealand’s biggest offensive weapon and said the 24-year-old would thrive if given the opportunity to play at fullback rather than on the flank. For more know about Rugby World Cup 2023 Tickets.
Just more chances over time with the ball in hand, the chances he had with the little inside balls in the chances he had, he was pretty electrified, so giving him more chances with the ball in hand can be really good for what we do. I’m talking about it, Parsons told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.
What makes us the best at our game is our instinctive, improvised, unstructured [play], and he’s shown us all year that he’s probably the best at it. Selecting Jordan as defenseman will see Jordie Barrett sacked or moved to another position, but Parsons is keen to keep the 40-Test international in the starting lineup.
“I really think Geordie should be in there somewhere because he has aspects of his games that others don’t, Parsons said. It’s his height and he’s shown that he can do it on the flank, it’s just that somehow it can be a change that creates opportunities for Will Jordan and we can really use the best of Geordie Barrett.”
RWC 2023 – Tadhg Furlong had three of the best lines in the All Blacks documentary
The only embarrassment was that the Wexford native didn’t show much in his moments of reflection when Ireland changed tables. Irish rugby fans will remember the summer of 2022 fondly as the likes of Johnny Sexton, Tudg Beirn, Peter O’Mahony and Tudg Furlong traveled to New Zealand to fight.
Tackling the All Blacks aired on RTE during the holiday period and featured some great moments from the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ tour. It’s still available on the RTE Player, and it’s worth catching up if you missed it during what is usually busy times.
It wasn’t the first time Furlong and O’Mahony pulled out some of the standout lines [we chose three good ones from Wexford’s props], but James Lowe and Paul O’Connell had some gems too.
“If you’re a rugby fan when you’re young, this is a milestone, Furlong said. Haka. We understand that this is a challenge, Sexton added, and we must rise to this challenge… we treat him with the utmost respect and we always treat him every time we face him. And you know what’s ahead, like. Well, that’s also a big physical challenge.”
Perhaps Conor Murray has the same reaction as most of us regular rugby fans and aficionados when they come face to face with the kiwi war dance. There’s a bit of fear, but it’s also like, Oh my God, it’s live. They are right in front of me. This is great!
“Once that’s done, said James Low, it’s time to go. Time to talk about money. Do you know this is rugby? That happens”.
Ireland scored the first try in the Test series against New Zealand via Keith Earles but leaked back four goals scored and fell 28-5 at halftime. On top of that, Johnny Sexton has already retired from the field after a big hit. You know, it happened quickly, Tadh Furlong mused.
“Some people say, Oh, you know, if you didn’t give up those three tries so quickly… but this is rugby, you know? That happens. in the moment and whatever happened before, you have to sincerely let it go, just refocus and get back to business.”
Ireland were able to refocus and scored a try by Harry Ringrose early in the second half but lost 42–19. They will need to win the final two Tests to advance the series.
“Many Irish players consider the enlightening review on the Monday morning after the First Test to be the turning point in the series. It was the most important two hours of our tour, said Peter O’Mahony, “when we took apart this game and at times saw what we left there.”
Again, it was Furlong and his matter-of-fact pitch that led to what became Ireland’s historic victory at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr. He proclaimed, If we could present our game the way we wanted it to be played, we’d be on the hunt.
Ireland really released the game the way they wanted. They were already leading 10-0 and were furious when the All Blacks were reduced to 14 after Harry Ringrose suffered a concussion from a hard hit. There was a second half kickback to come, but Ireland held on to win their first ever Test against the All Blacks at their home ground.
According to James Low, there were a few guys that really came into their own that day. We were on one of them that day and reaped the benefits. Unfortunately, Tadg Furlong no longer appears when the Third Trial is discussed. Particular attention is being paid to the team’s senior players – veterans of the 2012 tour to New Zealand – as Ireland won again at Wellington to seal the series win. Fittingly, the final words go to Johnny Sexton.
“Is this the pinnacle for us? he asked rhetorically. No, because we see the Rugby World Cup as the end point of this team’s journey. RWC, then it will be the fondest memory of my career.”
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