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The All Blacks should throw a 'C' team out at Twickenham

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The All Blacks‘ undefeated streak extended to 11 when they claimed a 23-20 victory over the Wallabies via a long range penalty goal from Richie Mo’unga’s boot in Dunedin.

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If they continue that run and beat the Springboks at Twickenham in their last warm-up game, they will likely have to continue their undefeated streak to 19 to win the Rugby World Cup.

The 25-all draw with England last year might be a blessing, as it rules out having to set a new winning streak record for a for tier one teams, which currently stands at 18.

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The record for an undefeated streak of tier one Test matches is 23, achieved by New Zealand over 1987-90, which would not be under threat this year.

Whilst beating France in the opening pool game is not a pre-requisite to progressing, a loss in Paris to start pool play would be an undesired way to start a World Cup campaign. A loss significantly dents the chances of winning the tournament as history shows.

If there was a perfect time to take a loss, it would be now against the Springboks, in a meaningless exhibition match on the eve of the Rugby World Cup to reset mentally and start the campaign fresh on zero.

Filling Twickenham will fill the coffers but nothing else. There is nothing to be gained in this match from a competitive stand point. Losing one or more central players to serious injury or suspension would be senseless.

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Consider England, who will surely lose their captain and figurehead Owen Farrell to suspension after a red card in a warm-up fixture which will likely see him miss pool stage games.

What did he need to warm-up for? Are the pool stage games not adequate enough for a 100-Test veteran to find some form?

The irony now is, should he be suspended for the entirety of the pool stages, he will walk into a crunch quarter-final completely ‘cold’ having seen no game time for over a month.

Ardie Savea, all three Barrett brothers, Sam Whitelock, Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Will Jordan, Brodie Retallick should all be in stands in their number ones for the Twickenham fixture.

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That list could be extended too many more undervalued players like Samisoni Taukei’aho, Tyrel Lomax, Shannon Frizell who have immense value in specific roles.

There are very few top line starters that need game time to find form, with those that could do with the opportunity in the World Cup squad are slim.

There are returning players from injury who could do with starts, namely Crusaders Fletcher Newell and David Havili.

Then there are those that haven’t seen a lot of action like Anton Lienert-Brown, Cam Roigard and Luke Jacobson.

But that list is short.

The players who will have the most to gain from the Test are the ones left in New Zealand.

The chance to represent the All Blacks will mean more for them, with hunger to wear the black jersey and the freedom mentally knowing they are not participating at the World Cup.

Some of the All Blacks XV players should be flown over to London for that game to fill the necessary gaps. It is a win-win situation for the All Blacks if they do.

If they lose, it will end the streak and reset the squad mentally while if a ‘C’ team does surprise and carve up the Boks, it would be two birds with one stone.

They will have preserved the front line All Blacks while demoralising the Springboks.

To be humiliated in front of the English by an experimental team would effectively kill South Africa’s World Cup hopes before they even touch down in France.

There is no quick remedy for the psychological damage that will be done if they are laughed off the pitch by the Twickenham crowd.

Tortured souls do not go on to achieve greatness in the midst of despair, and subjecting any of their World Cup squad to that would come with disastrous consequences.

The All Blacks could very well play their best side and come away unscathed, but the outcome doesn’t minimise the foolish risk taken.

There is nothing to gain from the fixture from a playing perspective and as such appropriate measures should be taken.

Experimental All Black ‘C’ side: 

1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
2. Dane Coles
3. Fletcher Newell
4. Josh Lord
5. Tupou Vaa’i
6. Samipeni Finau
7. Du’Plessis Kirifi*
8. Luke Jacobson
9. Cam Roigard
10. Stephen Perofeta
11. Etene Nanai-Seturo*
12. David Havili
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (c)
14. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
15. Shaun Stevenson

Reserves

16. Ricky Riccitelli*
17. Ollie Norris*
18. Nepo Laulala
19. Quinten Strange*
20. Akira Ioane
21. Brad Weber
22. Fergus Burke*
23. Ruben Love*

*Debut

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Comments

52 Comments
m
m 336 days ago

Heh Ben we will field a weekend team as well you clown

W
Warner 338 days ago

Your options are nothing short if ridiculous ABs will manup hard in every game here to finals , test matches are just that a TEST.
The last of the AB warm up games will be ferocious who cares who they are , and if those teams think negative like you they will get beaten and bashed
and could suffer injuries , that's why it's important to go in hot , every game at pace , this is what leads to WC glory.

M
Michael86 338 days ago

Warmup for the world cup is good but injuries are a factor as we've just seen with France and England

J
Jason 338 days ago

Looks like this article was put together by the C Team

D
Derek 338 days ago

just another insulting piece of rubbish to both the AB's and the Boks from this idiot

r
ruckaa 338 days ago

do you remember many years france and england used to send useless teams to play us and the all blacks would thrash them by 50 points however come the world cup the pricks beat us that was with dan carter richie then later england won the world cup with hardarse old barsteds that played all the time no breaks my point being theres no formula for guarranteed wins HOWEVER all blacks DO NOT get thrashed by 50 points NEVER s.a , aussie have been thrashed by 50 points so best foot forward everytime i reckon we should never jepordise our outstanding legacy

A
Another 338 days ago

If you were only going to play a ‘c’ team for fear of injuries, then why make the fixture in the first place? It will be a risk and I wouldn’t play all the top players, to be sure, but testing out some legitimate combinations that may be used in the WC is pretty much what they’ll have to do. You can’t wrap them all up in cotton wool, and it wouldn’t be worth shipping in a bunch of players from the other side of the world just for a single match.

C
Chris 338 days ago

Love it. Rassie can hang this on the changeroom door.

B
Bruiser 339 days ago

DMac should be 10 for this game. He needs more game time

B
Bruiser 339 days ago

Suspect it will be a B team, but cant see them bringing in other players outside the squad plus standby players

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Turlough 4 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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