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Ex-All Black predicts changes for second Bledisloe Cup match

By Alex McLeod
Photos: Photosport/Getty Images

Former All Blacks hooker James Parsons believes All Blacks head coach Ian Foster may make some changes to his lineup to face the Wallabies in Auckland this weekend.


The All Blacks defeated the Wallabies 33-25 at Eden Park last Saturday, and while the hosts’ poor start and finish to the match has come under scrutiny this week, Parsons predicts minimal changes for this week’s re-match.

Speaking on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod, the former two-test international said he believes Foster will keep faith in the majority of those who took to the field against the Australians three days ago.

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“I think it’ll be fairly similar. For the most part, I think they were reasonably happy with the first 60. They’ve just got some discipline stuff to clean-up,” Parsons told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“As a whole, it was a pretty clinical performance for the most part, outside of that discipline.”

However, Parsons noted that there is some room for movement and personnel changes, particularly in the forward pack, where a change at hooker and more size in the loose forwards could be in the offing.

He said that Dane Coles, who was a late withdrawal from last week’s bench due to a calf injury, could be thrown into the mix, dependant on his fitness.


The ex-Blues captain added that two-test youngster Asafo Aumua would benefit from some more exposure in the international arena after having only made one appearance off the bench against Tonga last month.

“A couple of changes, potentially depending on where Colesy is at, it might be easier to start him, get him to go all out, and then bring Codie [Taylor] off the bench, or he [Coles] might be out altogether and it’s just Codie and Asafo Aumua,” Parsons said.

“He [Aumua] was really effective for Wellington on the weekend, so after a pretty strong season, and I know Samisoni [Taukei’aho] has gone really well, but unleashing Asafo at some stage could be an exciting opportunity for them before heading away.”

In the loose forwards, Parsons suggested the impact of Luke Jacobson off the bench over the weekend might be enough to have swayed the All Blacks selectors to put him back into the starting side.


Parsons also reserved praise for Akira Ioane’s direct play around the fringes of the ruck, which he said helped lead to David Havili’s and Damian McKenzie’s tries.

“The loose forward trio I thought worked really well. It’s a good mix, but Luke was well-documented that he came off the bench and he made a hell of a lot of tackles, good running metres, so his impact might have been acknowledged,” Parsons said.

“Luke Jacobson comes back into it, potentially maybe at No 8 or how they see him if he can potentially go at 6, but the thing is we didn’t touch on those other tries where there were picks through the middle.

“I thought Akira did really well. He picked through the middle before David Havili scored in the corner, and then, before [Damian] McKenzie’s last one, they took the same philosophy.

“So, in and around those forwards, in and around that pick and go area, picking based on that, they might go for a bigger trio rather than the faster trio.”

Crusaders and Maori All Blacks halfback Bryn Hall, meanwhile, agreed with Parsons that Foster will make few, if any, alterations to his match day squad.

Hall did, however, predict potential changes in the tight five, as he believed his Crusaders teammate George Bower could swap places with Karl Tu’inukuafe.

The 29-year-old halfback added that Brodie Retallick might be replaced by either Scott Barrett, another late withdrawal from last week’s match due to illness, or Patrick Tuipulotu.

“I think they’ll be pretty loyal to the guys that did the job on the weekend,” Hall told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“I think possibly there might be a change, maybe possibly bringing in big Karl, who I thought played pretty well when he came on.

“I think there’s a few scrum penalties with Georgie Bower in that test match, so they could possibly go with big Karl coming in.

“We’ve got a great locking system, so whether Brodie or Sam might get a rest – Sam won’t get a rest, but whether they keep Brodie there and bring Scooter [Barrett] on or even Patty [Tuipulotu], who came in late.

“Those are a couple of positions I think that could change a little bit.”

Hall went on to reject the notion that Beauden Barrett will return to fullback for the first time this year as he spoke highly of incumbent No 15 Damian McKenzie.

“No, I reckon Beaudy is definitely just seen as a 10, and he’s said that as well, that he wants to play 10,” Hall said.

“I think if they do get in dire straits where there are a lot of injuries, then he could possibly come back there, but I’ve really enjoyed seeing Damo at the back.

“Previously, there was obviously Richie and Beauden working that dual role, but I think Damo’s done a really good job around that.

“He’s played a lot at 10 for the Chiefs this year and then coming back to 15 where he’s played most of his rugby as well, so I think he’s doing really, really well.

Hall also acknowledged the “energetic” efforts of All Blacks wing and his Crusaders teammate Sevu Reece in the opening Bledisloe Cup test.

“I thought Sevu was great on the weekend … Just how busy he is at working around the ball. He was in and around for that pick-and-go try,” Hall told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“That’s been his massive trait that he wanted to work on this year, being able to be around the ball. He is just energetic everywhere.

“You can see even in counter-rucks. They’re setting up for kicks and he’s trying to counter-ruck and being able to show a lot of energy.

“Will Jordan might come back into the fold as well, who was great in those first couple of test matches.

“It’s a pretty settled back three with the way they’re performing pretty well, and if you’re going with how they’re performing and how they’re playing, there probably wouldn’t be many changes there.”

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