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All Blacks player ratings vs Australia | Bledisloe Cup

By Ned Lester
Richie Mo'unga wins the ball for the All Blacks. Photo by SANKA VIDANAGAMA/AFP via Getty Images

Ian Foster doesn’t believe in dead rubber matches but his selections for 2023’s second Bledisloe Test offered a very dead rubber-esque lineup; the coach handed out three debuts and named a number of further changes across the park.


The match offered a final chance for various fringe players to prove their worth before the All Blacks‘ World Cup squad is named on Monday. That being said, Ian Foster has made no secret of his mind being fairly made up on which 33 names he will be bringing to the tournament.

Afternoon footy was in full swing in Dunedin with action aplenty from the outset of the match. The Wallabies came out swinging but the All Blacks survived both the Wallabies best efforts and their own worst.

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The benches were the difference and the All Blacks’ second unit came on and stole the game at the death. Fulltime score: 23-20

Here’s how the All Blacks rated:

1. Tamaiti Williams – 4

After an impressive debut against the Springboks, Williams had a shaky start to Bledisloe 2. He was penalised at scrum time and inaccurate at the breakdown, getting penalised there too. He started to find his feet towards the end of the first half, getting some better collisions in and winning the final scrum of the half.

The All Blacks came out in the second half with some clearer pod structure and Williams benefitted from it, collecting tip-on balls and winning collisions in the carry.

2. Samisoni Tau’keiaho – 6

With his first starting opportunity in 2023, Taukei’aho looked out of sorts to start the match. The hooker was uncharacteristically inaccurate at lineout time and struggled to find his feet in the carry. He’s an energetic player and his efforts were relentless regardless of the reward he was seeing, his efforts at the breakdown slowed the Wallaby ball down but simply weren’t enough on the night.


3. Nepo Laulala – 5

After appearing off the bench in the three opening matches of the 2023 season, Laulala got his shot in a starting jersey but ultimately failed to fire. His scrummaging was shown up by his opposite and he was quiet elsewhere around the park.

4. Brodie Retallick – 6.5

It was a short stint on the field for Retallick who left the game after 25 minutes with a knee injury. In those minutes the lock put himself in positions to influence the match all over the field, chasing back on Wallaby linebreaks and making his presence felt at the breakdown.

5. Sam Whitelock – 7

After 144 caps, Whitelock is on the verge of not just becoming the all-time most-capped All Black, but also losing his spot in the starting XV. Whitelock struggled to get a shoulder on with his first few contacts, not for a lack of effort or involvement and he gradually found his feet but it, just be said a more assertive start from the big man would have helped steer his team early.


6. Samipeni Finau – 7.5

A debut to the impressive young workhorse blindside flanker offered a potential glimpse into the future of the All Blacks No 6 jersey – and it’s a bright one. Finau was typically hungry for work but his execution missed the mark early. Some heavy collisions impressed but any runner not directly within his grasp often fell through his fingers.

A try put his team in front and was further proof of his strong carrying ability. Finau was one of the few All Blacks who won the collision consistently throughout the match.

7. Sam Cane (c) – 8

The All Blacks’ defensive line wasn’t gelling in the opening stages but when Cane got a chance to slot himself into the action the line held firmer and the captain looked to make plays, spying opportunities to rush the Wallaby attack.

The captain proved himself a stoic leader amidst a chaotic match, providing a calm head for his team throughout the mess. The All Blacks of old win games like this through their composure and star power and this match – while at times woeful – showed glimpses of that tenacity, a promising sign ahead of the World Cup.

8. Ardie Savea – 7

Savea is unfazed by the chaos of the match, playing his usual game as if all was well. His runs were influential but his threat at the breakdown was dimmed by the Wallaby pack and he was outmuscled by some of the bigger Wallaby forwards.


9. Finlay Christie – 7.5

With pressure mounting for Cam Roigard to claim the No 21 jersey for the World Cup, Christie had an opportunity to put the noise to rest in Dunedin. The halfback’s defence shone brightly early and his composure was impressive amidst a poor first half from his side. The All Blacks forwards provided a poor platform for long stretches and the halfback’s opportunities suffered but his passing remained quality.

10. Damian McKenzie – 3.5

McKenzie couldn’t buy a decent kick in the game. Poorly executed tactical kicks went dead or were claimed in the 22 while touchfinders missed the sideline. His running game at first receiver failed tp threaten the Australian line and he couldn’t find any runners.

A try assist and touchline conversion promised a better second half but another two poor kicks saw him replaced in the 49th minute.

11. Leicester Fainga’anuku – 7

Super Rugby Pacific’s leading try-scorer has finally overcome his injury troubles and injected himself into the match with strong carries early, winning the collision frequently. There were considerable quiet periods throughout the match for the winger but he had huge impact when chances did come his way.

12. Anton Lienert-Brown – 5

Lienert-Brown benefitted from his move to No 13, getting more touches and more opportunities in the second half. After an energetic injection into the match last week, ALB struggled to make a real positive impact on the match.

13. Braydon Ennor – 7.5

Ennor lasted just under 40 minutes in the match but those minutes were more impressive than most. His defensive instincts consistently put him in good positions while on attack, his support lines rewarded linebreaks. A linebreak of his own was one of the few moments the All Blacks attack looked threatening but it was a just a minute later he was struck down by injury.

14. Shaun Stevenson – 4.5

The much-anticipated debut started with two tries in Steveson’s corner, one to Marika Koroibete and one to Tom Hooper. The physicality of the Wallaby runners proved a handful for Stevenson throughout but most of his collisions on the defensive side were at least enough to take the sting out and give his support time to arrive.

A try to start the second half didn’t require much but will be a memorable moment for the debutant nonetheless. Stevenson chased a number of kicks but was too passive in following them up, not offering much pressure on the return kick or seeking the tackle.

15. Will Jordan – 6.5

A lot of ball went Jordan’s way in the match and while the elusive back spied a few running opportunities, he mostly handed the ball off to McKenzie to handle the return kicking. His runs early saved the All Blacks from a half of complete misery but he failed to fire in the second period


16. Dane Coles – 7
17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 8

The second unit dominated the scrum.

18. Fletcher Newell – 8

Newell was huge at scrum time and reserved yet opportunistic at the breakdown, applying pressure and proving strong over the ball when contesting.

19. Tupou Vaa’i – 6
20. Luke Jacobson – 7
21. Aaron Smith – 7.5
22. Richie Mo’unga – 8.5

Mo’unga’s injection into the match was a turning point, he brought calmness and structure. The flyhalf claimed multiple great highball takes and of course slotted the game-winner.

23. Dallas McLeod – 6


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Joey 349 days ago

Aride scored a 7
Wow you need to get your eyes tested
What game were you watching RugbyPass

Don 349 days ago

We can't afford to risk Damien McKenzie in the World Cup. He's like a fly going mad in a bottle. His original flair has gone.

Don 349 days ago

Ardie Savea does some great things but I would describe his style of play as frenetic or explosive a bit as though he's having a physical primal scream.

Benn Daniel 349 days ago

Christie had a shocker. The injection of Newell and Ofa. Thank goodness. They absolutely dominated. Mounga and Smith calmed the lads and got back into the grind. DMac let me down. Was hoping he could take over once Mounga leaves. But nah. He was playing too flash. Stick to the game plan. Bomb squad, possession and territory. Made it a tough game for the boys with his harlem globetrotter style lol. Lucky Fozzy had the vets on the bench. But Ofa and Newell. They were immense. If they didn't dominate, we would have lost that game because our piggy back penalties came from the scrum. Match winner too.

Scott 349 days ago

Sam Whitelock made 17 of 17 tackles, stole two balls at breakdown, prevented the Tate McDermot try (with Ardie), cleaned out effectively, and disrupted the Wallabies line-out especially in second half. He deserved an 8 at least along with Ardie Savea.

Will Jordan was rock solid under high ball, made all his tackles, and ran for a game high 150 metres but out ran his support on 2 line breaks as they could not keep up or ran poor support lines He was outstanding at fullback as he has been on wing.

Shaun Stevenson was terrible in first half as he was responsible for two tries on his wing. However Stevenson was very good in second half. It will be interesting to see if he is selected over Emoni Narawa as Jordan’s backup on right wing.

Have to believe that Leicester Fainga’anuka will be selected as the left wing to backup Mark Teala over Caleb Clarke. He was a beast with ball in hand and at the breakdown.

Ofa Tu’ungafasi also deserves recognition for a very strong game along with Fletcher Newell and I would not be surprised if it is Tamaiti Williams who misses selection if Joe Moody is fit.

And I really hope that is the last we see of Findlay Christie in black and Brad Weber joins Aaron Smith and Cam Roigard in France.

Ruby 349 days ago

Will Jordan proved why he shouldn't be handed the 15 jersey again, I got downvoted to sh*t last time I said this but he clearly isn't suited to the role, he was out of position almost the entire game, the few times he actually fielded the ball he passed it to DMac, Christie and later Stevenson, passes which delayed the All Blacks enough for the Wallabies to adjust. He was completely missing on defence, relying DMac to do most of his job and simply isn't tactically minded enough to put ball to boot.

Damian didn't have a good game but the Argentina test showed how good he is with a competent Fullback who does his jobs, Will Jordan didn't, he's arguably the greatest Winger in the world right now but he's objectively a terrible Fullback and the fact that people are in such denial/ignorance over it concerns me that the coaches aren't any better. I'm not going to judge DMac on a game where he spent 40 minutes playing Flyhalf and Fullback at the same time with a slow Scrumhalf, there's no need, he's our 3rd best Flyhalf after Beauden, he's going regardless, instead we can talk about how Ennor was too slow or how Christie is our 5th best Scrumhalf after Smith, Roigard, Weber and Fakatava in that order.

MitchO 349 days ago

Whitelock stopped Tate scoring and made some key turnovers. Good game from the great man. Seizing those moments got nz over the line in front.

mike 350 days ago

while you got McKenzie right if you think Christie should have rated as well as Aaron Smith you must have been watching a different game than the one I watched. The two huge impacts off the bench were Smith and Mo Unga

B.J. Spratt 350 days ago

How can All Blacks win 2023 World Cup, when 13 All Blacks from team who got "Beaten Up by England" in 2019 Semi Final are in All Blacks in 2023, 6 Of them are Starters in our forward pack, All 4 years older and 4 seconds slower !

Hit-Cho-Wa 350 days ago

Ardie the man a constant 8 to go with his go go against any team

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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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