‘He’s a winger talking about loose forwards’: Former All Black No 8 rejects benching Savea

A scorching take was delivered on The Breakdown this week when former All Black Jeff Wilson claimed he would shift Ardie Savea to the All Blacks bench to make manner for Luke Jacobson.

Savea received All Blacks Participant of the Yr in 2022 and there was appreciable objection on-line when the No 8 was disregarded of the World Participant of the Yr nominees in addition to the World Rugby Dream Workforce.

For a lot of, Savea’s title can be the primary on the group sheet. Wilson although most popular the type of Jacobson, a standout for the Chiefs because the Waikato Tremendous Rugby Pacific group went practically undefeated in 2023.

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While boasting 60 All Blacks appearances, Wilson’s credentials were called into question by former All Black No 8 Murray Mexted.

“I think he’s a winger talking about loose forwards,” Mexted told The Platform. “It’s interesting isn’t it, Jeff was an outstanding rugby player and has now become a fantastic colour commentator and I guess it’s provocative.

“He’s talking about a position that he’s not an expert in, he’s never played in. He was a great finisher and try scorer, and actually quite a creative finisher as well. But I don’t think he knows the art of loose forwards, If you ask him what the role of the six and the seven and the eight were – and it’s not just Jeff, it’s any commentator that played in the outside backs – they don’t necessarily know about the role of those various loose forward positions.

“I do know about that role and I know Ardie Savea.

“By the way, the role of the openside flanker and the No 8 is to retain the possession when we’ve got it and regain possession when the opposition’s got it, so you’ve actually got to be a bit of a hunter and gatherer. You’ve got to be targeting that ball and you’ve got to make sure we keep it.

“Now, Ardie’s great in that area of the game. Sam Cane is fantastic as well and I actually think Blackadder, that’s his best position because he’s a hunter and a gatherer as well. Those guys stand out.

“We’ve got plenty of open-side flankers, we haven’t got too many No 8s and that’s where I see a problem because when you play the big boys, and the Rugby Championship is the big boys most of the time, but certainly at the World Cup when you play teams like England and France and even Ireland these days, they have got at least three, often four players who are capable of winning the ball in the air.

“At the moment, with playing Ardie at No 8, we need a very big and dominant blindside flanker who can join Whitelock and Retallick and Barrett – Barrett also, I think would be an outstanding blindside flanker.

“The challenge is to get enough people that can win the ball in the air.”

The All Blacks’ first Test of the year is on July 9 and While Ian Foster has retained his core group where possible, new faces may well shake up the matchday 23.

The No 6 jersey in particular has been the topic of much debate, with the lineout issues Mexted alluded to of primary concern ahead of the World Cup. Forwards coach Jason Ryan hinted during the squad announcement that Shannon Frizzel is the top option and does offer a strong lineout option having played at lock this season for the Highlanders.

Scott Barrett’s ability to play blindside flanker is hotly debated also, the Crusaders captain offers plenty of height and lineout nous but sceptics point to the 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final as well as a lack of experience defending from the side of the scrum as indicators that he is best to stick to lock.

Other options are the versatile Luke Jacobson or a potential debut for fellow Chief Samipeni Finau.

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Revealed : 2023-07-01 02:37:33

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