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'Done deal': Ex-All Black claims young Chiefs' winger is a bolter selection

By Ben Smith
Emoni Narawa celebrates his try for the Chiefs. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP /AFP via Getty Images

Chiefs breakout wing Emoni Narawa is a ‘done deal’ for All Blacks selection according to Highlanders great and former All Black No 14 Jeff Wilson.

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The 23-year-old Fijian-born prospect has been sensational for the Chiefs in 2023 with five tries in six starts for the competition leaders.

The fleet-footed flyer is averaging 4.5 defenders beaten per 80 minutes which places him in the top 10 in the competition.

His form warranted a mention from All Blacks head coach Ian Foster which has thrust the No 14 into the bolter conversation.

Wilson went a step further to suggest that he has already secured his spot in Foster’s squad after a brilliant performance against the Crusaders in a high-pressure game.

“It’s a done deal,” Wilson told Sky Sport’s The Breakdown panel.

“He’s not a bolter, because when Ian Foster mentions him in an article saying he’s interested in the way he’s going to play.

“In the very next game, on the biggest stage in front of the biggest crowd he would’ve played in front of, he goes out and performs like he did [against the Crusaders].

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“It was a remarkable game and you needed to see some critical things from him and you saw it all.

“You saw him carrying, you saw him kicking the ball, athleticism, contesting the ball in the air.

“Most importantly, defensively I thought he was really strong. He got up and made his tackles.

“This kick here, this was the most important kick of the game. Three or four minutes to go, he pinned the Crusaders deep in their own territory. They were very unlucky not to score.

“For me right now, he’s in the squad, he would have to do a lot to not get an opportunity in the All Black jersey this season.”

With the season-ending ACL injury to Sevu Reece the All Blacks are on the look-out for a replacement but there are a number of candidates vying for selection.

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Last year’s debutant Mark Telea has been in superb form for the Blues and hasn’t put a step wrong, with the second-most running metres and defenders beaten in Super Rugby.

Narawa’s teammate Shaun Stevenson is also in the mix for a place in the All Blacks’ back three as a player who can play on the wing and fullback.

Stevenson has nine tries, the most in the competition, and has been the competition’s form player through 10 rounds of action.

He played in the No 14 jersey for the All Blacks XV last season and showcased his finishing abilities with two tries against Ireland ‘A’.

Injured Crusaders fullback Will Jordan is yet to return from an inner ear problem but when available has been the first choice right wing for Foster.

 

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1 Comment
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Roger 413 days ago

Emoni Narawa and Shawn Stephenson are both in superb form and definitely should both make the Rugby Championship Squad. The ability to create something out of nothing is a skill that the All Blacks have traditionally had. There is a reason why the Chiefs and the All Blacks are the most feared broken play counter attacking sides at their respective levels.

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