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All Blacks star names the five standout players he faced on recent tour

By Sam Smith
(Getty Images)

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All Blacks star Will Jordan has named the five opposition players that stood out the most on New Zealand’s recent Rugby Championship and end-of-year tour.

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The All Blacks completed their three-month trek of the globe a fortnight ago in a trip that saw them traverse six countries across three continents to play 10 tests.

While they secured the Rugby Championship, Bledisloe Cup and Freedom Cup trophies, Ian Foster’s men succumbed to three defeats against the Springboks, Ireland and France.

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It’s no surprise, then, that Jordan’s list of standout opposition players hail from the three countries that condemned the All Blacks to their worst season since 2009.

Speaking on the What A Lad podcast, hosted by former Hurricanes fullback James Marshall, Jordan picked out two Springboks, an Irishman and two French players as the best that he came up against throughout the tour.

Recently-crowned 2021 World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year, Jordan didn’t feature in the loss to the Springboks on the Gold Coast two months ago, but played in the first test the week beforehand in Townsville.

The All Blacks scraped to a 19-17 victory thanks to the boot of Jordie Barrett, but it was the physical presence of South African captain Siya Koli and towering lock Eben Etzebeth that caught Jordan’s eye.

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The 23-year-old pinpointed both players as stars for the reigning World Cup champions, who wreaked havoc with the All Blacks physically in both tests held in Australia.

“I thought initially, when you ran out against the South Africans, it was like, ‘They’re big boys, a big dominant pack’,” Jordan told What A Lad. “I thought a couple of their forwards like Etzebeth and Kolisi, they were just physical specimens.”

More than a month later, Jordan took to the field for the All Blacks against Ireland at Aviva Stadium in Dublin in a match where the hosts scored their third victory over their Kiwi counterparts in five years.

In their 29-20 win over the All Blacks, Ireland produced a world-class performance in which former Chiefs and Tasman wing James Lowe scored a try and played outstandingly well in.

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Lowe was Jordan’s teammate at Tasman in 2017, and the latter paid tribute to his fellow speedster, who he marked in last month’s defeat, for his efforts in taking down the All Blacks in comprehensive fashion.

“I’ll give a shoutout to another What A Lad, James Lowe,” Jordan said. “I thought in that game against us, he played very well, like we know he can, like he did in New Zealand for so long, but I thought he played really well, just his energy and stuff.”

The other two players that Jordan said he was impressed by was star French halves partners Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack.

Both players were in typically fine form when the All Blacks travelled to Paris a week after their loss to Ireland, only to fall short for a second week running and close their season out with a 40-25 thumping at the hands of Les Bleus.

Dupont and Ntamack played crucial roles in guiding their country to victory over New Zealand, their first since 2009, and Jordan, who left that match early in the second half, acknowledged their performances.

“Then probably the 9-10 combo for the French, Dupont and Ntamack. Two sort of young-ish guys, they had a pretty strong performance against us and pulled the strings well.”

Listen to Will Jordan’s interview on the What A Lad podcast below:

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