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‘Australia are beaten up’: Why the All Blacks need to pick and stick

By Finn Morton
Scott Barrett of the All Blacks talks to team mates in a huddle after winning The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Former New Zealand halfback Justin Marshall doesn’t want to see any changes to the All Blacks’ starting side when they take on rivals Australia in Dunedin on Saturday.

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Playing in front of more than 83,000 people at the MCG last weekend, the All Blacks secured The Rugby Championship crown and retained the Bledisloe Cup with a big win over the Wallabies.

It was their third win in as many starts this year. New Zealand began their campaign with a dominant win over Argentina, and backed up that performance against South Africa a week later.

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This might be the best the All Blacks have looked under current coach Ian Foster.

But the All Blacks only have two more Test matches to play before their opening Rugby World Cup fixture against tournament hosts France in Paris.

New Zealand host arch-rivals Australia in the South Island this weekend, and they’ll have a ‘rematch’ of sorts against world champions South Africa in Twickenham just before the World Cup.

With just over a month to go until the upcoming tournament in France, former Test halfback Justin Marshall weighed in on why the All Blacks should “be very reluctant” to make mass changes.

“That’s the real melon scratcher really because Australia are beaten up, no doubt about it,” Marshall told The Platform. “They’ve got injury problems, they’re struggling again to find the way that they want to play.

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“You don’t expect them to come with too much firepower given the evidence of what we saw on the weekend.

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“It is a chance, I guess, to give some players more game time… but I think I said it before the All Blacks even ran out for their first Test match, I said they need to keep putting the same players out there.

“If you want players to get game time, bring them off the bench. Let the starting 15 continue to go out there and play as a team, be a team, and like I said, get galvanised together.

“I would be very reluctant to make any changes this weekend barring any injuries or fatigue.”

Following their 35-20 win over the Springboks in Auckland last month, the All Blacks made one change to their starting side to take on the Wallabies.

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Captain Sam Cane sustained a neck injury during the match, and failed to recover in time for the opening Bledisloe Cup clash of the year.

Flanker Dalton Papali’i was promoted to the starting lineup for his first Test in the no. 7 jersey since his breakout end-of-season tour last year.

The Test also saw halfback Cam Roigard make his debut in black off the bench. Roigard has 19 minutes of Test rugby to his name, and is already a Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup winner.

There are other players in the squad though – including the likes of Shaun Stevenson and Samipeni Finau – who are yet to ply their trade in the Test arena.

Marshall said that he does “feel for some of the players” who haven’t got a run yet, but insisted the All Blacks’ starting side was untouchable.

“It’s not the time to experiment,” Marshall added. “It’s too short a window that they’ve got and then a World Cup is a World Cup.

“I feel for some of the players that probably deserve an opportunity and probably haven’t done anything wrong, but he (Ian Foster) knows what his starting 15 is and that’s the team that he’s got to keep chucking out there and making sure that they are the side that carries us all the way through to the World Cup final.

“I feel that when they can, give some of those players that are a bit green the time that they need off the bench.

“The players that they feel need a run this weekend off the bench, bring them on just before halftime if you want.”

The All Blacks take on the Wallabies at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday afternoon (NZST).

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Utiku Old Boy 348 days ago

Balancing opportunities for those on the edges with continuity at the risk of injuries is not easy. Cohesion and combinations still need work but there is not a lot of time left and we risk including known but only average reserves like Nepo, Ofa, Christie without seeing Newell, Tamaiti, Finau, Roigard, Leicester F and Stevenson have a decent crack. McCloud is next year's player if ALB and Havili are ready to go (with the current midfield) so I am less concerned about him. If Narawa is out through injury, LF MUST have a shot to prove if he should be there. Stevenson too. Also agree with those who feel Webber may need to be a like-for-like replacement for AS if he goes down with Roigard the closer for both.

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Jon 3 hours ago
How Maro Itoje terrorised the All Blacks lineout

Yeah England were much smarter, they put their much vaster experience to use in both the scrum (bending/not taking hit) and lineout (Itoje early sacks) law vagaries. Really though, I know what is there, I’m more worried about Englands locks. We only got to see Itoje and Martin, right? Depth allround in the England camp was probably the difference in the series and the drop off when Itoje reached his minutes limit for the season (it was like the plug was pulled from the charger) was up there with keeping Sexton on the park in that quarter final. What happened there? You have a lot of watching hours experience with locks come blindsides Nick, especially with a typical Australian player make up, have you see a six the size of Barrett absolutely dominate the position and his opposition? I can easily see Scott, and even Martin for that matter, moving to the blindside and playing like Tadgh Beirne with the amount of top locks we have coming through to partner Patrick. Still with the English mindset, because despite running the best All Black team I’ve seen in a long time close, they do need to find improvement, and although I thought they had a lot of good performances from their 7’s (over the years), I really like the prospect of Cunningham-South in his 8 spot and Earl on the open. Can you see Martin as mobile enough to take over Lawes? I absolutely loved his aggression when Jordie ran upto him to try and grab the ball. That alone is enough reason for me to try him there.

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