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‘Don’t think we can beat South Africa’: Why the All Blacks need to be ‘courageous’

By Finn Morton
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

With the end of this year’s Super Rugby Pacific campaign in sight, rugby fans and pundits in the southern hemisphere have already begun to shift their focus onto this year’s World Cup.

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This year, there have been countless debates by supporters, journalists and retired greats surrounding the potential selection dilemmas awaiting the traditional heavyweights of the sport.

Uncapped bolters including Shaun Stevenson and Cam Roigard have certainly given All Blacks coach Ian Foster something to think about, and they aren’t the only ones either.

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Blue winger Mark Telea, who debuted for the All Blacks during last year’s end-of-season tour, has timed his World Cup run to perfection.

With the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs less than a fortnight away, Telea stole the show in a quasi-playoff clash against the high flying Hurricanes at Eden Park.

Telea showcased his elite athleticism and strength during a four-try blitz in round 14, which saw the 26-year-old the Power Player of the Weekend on Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown.

Considering their depth in the outside backs, attempting to pick the All Blacks’ two wingers and a fullback may be harder than finding a needle in a haystack – but three legends gave it a go.

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And their praise for Telea was unanimous.

Retired greatest Mils Muliaina, Jeff Wilson and Sir John Kirwan would all pick the Blues speedster on the right wing for the All Blacks.

“Pretty tough, pretty tough positions to pick,” Muliaina said on The Breakdown.

“I’d still love to see Beauden out there at fullback. I think Jordan, regardless of where his name goes on first, but I’d love to see Beauden Barrett out the back, Telea on the other wing.

“I’ve got no doubt we’ve got guys who are world beaters, it’s just how we’re going to play… I’ve got no doubt in my mind that we’ve got the talent, it’s just how are we going to play this game?”

As the countdown to the sport’s most prestigious event continues to tick by, anyone and everyone within the rugby community believes they have the answer to some possible problems.

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For ultimately, this is it – four years of patience and devotion comes down to this one event. The hopes and dreams of rugby-mad nations will either be crushed or fulfilled in France.

New Zealand Rugby fans are more than passionate about the 15-player game, and they’ll be desperate to see the All Blacks reclaim ‘world champion’ status in France.

But they have some great to make up.

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The All Blacks are not the favourites for to win the tournament for a reason. They were beaten by Ireland, South Africa and Argentina last year, and just snuck by the Wallabies in Melbourne.

Believing the All Blacks can’t win the World Cup if they “try and defend’ their way to the title, former Test winger Jeff Wilson has explained why he thinks the All Blacks need to be “courageous.”

“I don’t think we can beat South Africa at their game, we can’t beat Ireland the way that they play. We don’t play like other sides, we don’t play like France. We need to have our own style,” Wilson said.

“I just look at the group go, ‘I think we’ve got to be courageous, we’ve got to have the ability and willingness to play with the ball.’

“We’ve got to get the ball into the hands of the guys who can break open a game, who can keep the ball alive and you give them a license to play, the freedom to play.

“If we do that we’ll maximise our talent and take it away from the opposition.

“If we try and defend our way to a Rugby World Cup, I don’t think we win.”

The All Blacks can select a maximum of 33-player for this year’s Rugby World Cup, but will be able to select a slightly larger squad for The Rugby Championship.

Coach Ian Foster will be able to name 36-players to take on Argentina, South Africa and the Wallabies – which, in theory, could include a handful of outside backs.

“Barrett, Jordan and Telea at the moment on form,” Kirwan added.

“You probably put Jordan there because Barrett is not playing, you might add someone else in there – Fainga’anuku you probably can’t go past at the moment.

“They’re good problems to have.”

The All Blacks begin their World Cup campaign against hosts France in Paris in early September.

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2 Comments
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GrahamVF 412 days ago

The No10 dictates the style a team plays. The AB's have yo yoed between BB and RM for a couple of years now and they p-lay completely differently which i9s why the AB's. haven't developed their own style. If you look at all the teams which have won the WC they have had a settled No 10 and have built their game around him. Ireland have had JS for years and he is crucial to the way they play. If he lasts through the WC in full fitness they have a really good chance. If he doesn't they don't.

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William 2 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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