The All Blacks will likely select 11 more players to supplement their current 34-man squad when they travel to Australia in November and there’s one man that, after a superlative performance in the weekend, should be one of the first names that Ian Foster adds to the ledger.
David Havili, in just his second match back since he fractured his thumb in the middle of July, notched a hattrick of tries against Waikato in their round 3 Mitre 10 Cup clash.
Earlier this year, Havili was putting in strong performances for the Crusaders, regardless of whether they played him at fullback, in the midfield or even at first five.
On the latest edition of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod, former All Black James Parsons suggested that Havili must be one of the additional players called up to the All Blacks squad.
“One game back, Dave Havili, surely?” Parsons asked his North Harbour teammate Bryn Hall.
“He was unbelievable in the weekend. His game management’s as good as a 10. I think he’d go into the squad and could cover 10, 12, 15.”
Havili was first called into the New Zealand squad during the 2017 Rugby Championship to replace Jordie Barrett, who had been sidelined with a shoulder injury. Following two handy performances off the bench, Havili was retained for the All Blacks’ end of year tour where he played three matches. While the utility back wasn’t required for international duty in 2018 or 2019, his form throughout the current season has been unquestionable – something Parsons has identified as “crucial”.
“Form has to come into it. You don’t want to just go all out on guys that have had experience of All Blacks footy.
“I just thought, him on the weekend – after a bit of a break, and pretty serious by the sounds of it, he just comes back and delivers a shift like that against … potentially the form-equal team going into that game. I know [Waikato] were away from home but he made light work of it.”
Hall, a Crusaders teammate of Havili’s, didn’t require any convincing from his Aotearoa Rugby Pod co-panellist.
“I’m already on that horse,” Hall said. “The biggest thing that I love about Dave is that he has that versatility as well. He’s done it at Crusaders. He played 10 this year when Richie [Mo’unga] was injured and he’s played 12 the early part of his career. He’s been outstanding at fullback for the last three years with us.
Hall didn’t down-play Havili’s form either.
“You think about Tasman, you lose a guy like Will Jordan, who’s probably been one of the form fullbacks in the country, not just in Super Rugby but in Mitre 10 Cup. Then [after Jordan was pulled from the Tasman team for All Blacks duties] you get David Havili, scoring three tries.”
“You replace him with the guy that’s probably been the form fullback the last 2 years at Mitre 10 Cup and Super Rugby level,” Parsons responded. “He’d be the first name on the sheet for me.”
It had been two months since David Havili last played before Tasman's clash against Waikato on Saturday, but New Zealand's forgotten man has put the All Blacks selectors on notice.https://t.co/ZkKddxdX3F
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 26, 2020
Hall also shed some light on how Havili has managed to seemingly instantly play exceptional rugby, despite the long injury layoff he’s just recovered from.
“I think it comes back to, as well, Dave loves being back home. They’ve got a pretty successful team down there [at Tasman] at the moment. It hasn’t just been built overnight. When I talk to the Tassie boys, they love going back down there – not only for the rugby but that place that they’re living and kind of the culture and success that they’ve brought down there.
“He plays a big part in that community down there and when you’re playing happy and free and at the same being in a good team, you saw how good David Havili was in the weekend and probably for the foreseeable future in the competition.”
With North Harbour set to challenge Tasman this weekend, Hall was hopeful that Havili might take a back seat.
“Davie, I hope you have an absolute shocker, mate. Hope you’re no good. Just take a week off, you’ve got nothing more to prove this week.”
Despite the good-natured ribbing, however, Hall still identified his fellow Crusader as a must-pick for the All Blacks.
“If there’s ever a guy that’s deserving through consistency and week-to-week in what he brings not just on the field but leadership skills and his professionalism, he’s a guy that, for me personally, has got to be in that 11 or thereabouts.”
Find the latest episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod on all good podcast streaming services or listen to the episode below:
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