‘Australia are beaten up’: Why the All Blacks need to pick and stick
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.
This might be the best the All Blacks have looked under current coach Ian Foster.
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.
“You don’t expect them to come with too much firepower given the evidence of what we saw on the weekend.
“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.
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.
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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