Two former All Blacks have offered their views on All Black backline which failed to really fire in the second and third tests against Ireland while also offering a critique on fullback Jordie Barrett.
Former All Black Jeff Wilson, who covered right wing and fullback over 60 tests, theorized that Ian Foster’s side is missing a playmaking talent to create more opportunities for the players around him.
“The big thing for me, is we need to get more playmakers in that backline in positions to make decisions, quicker, smarter and identify space, because at the moment…” Wilson said.
“Beauden Barrett’s shift on the weekend, the amount of territory he covered, to try and impose himself on the game, the responsibility put on his shoulders was far too much.
“He was out on his feet. He played himself into the ground and people say ‘he didn’t have a big impact on the game’, it was because of everything else he was trying to do. “
Whilst key playmaker Beauden Barrett started all three tests at No 10, the midfield of Quinn Tupaea and Rieko Ioane looked good in the first test before an off night in Dunedin saw changes for the decider.
Crusaders second five-eighth David Havili was called upon to start in Wellington but a lack of game time meant that the new combinations did not click.
Wilson put the onus on Jordie Barrett at fullback to provide more ball-playing on the edges to create for the wingers.
“It was the first game David Havili had played this year, he looked not bad,” Wilson said.
“I think we need one more decision-maker in a key position, and for me it’s Jordie, I need you to step up at fullback and take over some of that playmaking ability.
“He can run hard, and run straight, his positioning in defense is strong. If you are at fullback, I need you to create.
“One guy who comes into the conversation when he becomes eligible going forward, is Damian McKenzie once he starts playing for Waikato. “
Former All Black fullback Mils Muliaina agreed with Wilson’s take and called for Barrett to balance his game up, but pointed to the disrupted midfield as a key reason why the backs did not find much chemistry.
“The thing with D-Mac is he’s been there before and done it before,” Muliaina said.
“He’s that type of player that can react to that kind of stuff. I think you are right, Jordie does need to balance his game up.
“When you look at also, that midfield has been really disruptive. It’s not anyones fault because they’ve had injuries, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jack Goodhueso finding the right balance has been really messy.
“For a guy like Jordie, perhaps playing at second five [at the Hurricanes] perhaps has put him in that mentality of just running hard and taking contact.
“He needs to be that guy that needs to run that cutter a little bit.
“D-Mac, I’m looking forward to what he will bring too, once he’s back in the fold.
Former Irish international Isaac Boss called for McKenzie’s return to the side immediately to take the pressure off first five Beauden Barrett however identified the loss of Anton Lienert-Brown as critical for the All Blacks.
“I would pick him now, because he would take a bit of pressure off the Barretts,” Boss said.
“I think a key guy they are missing is Anton Lienert-Brown. It’s just the cool, calm head who wouldn’t be a massive talker out there but like Tana was when he was there, he would absorb a lot, and was just that rock solid center. It’s just presence. “
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