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‘He’s not unlucky’: Ex-All Black weighs in on Harry Plummer’s omission

By Finn Morton
Harry Plummer of the Blues looks dejected during the round 15 Super Rugby Pacific match between Blues and Chiefs at Eden Park, on June 01, 2024, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Former New Zealand halfback Justin Marshall believes Harry Plummer wasn’t “unlucky” to miss out on the All Blacks’ first squad of the year even though the playmaker led the Blues to a historic Super Rugby Pacific title at Eden Park.

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When the All Blacks unveiled Scott Robertson’s first squad on Monday evening, it’s safe to say there were more than a few surprises. Hurricane Pasilio Tosi defines what it means to be a Test bolter as one of the five uncapped players in the 32-man group.

Crusaders lock Scott Barrett was also given the nod as the All Blacks’ newest captain ahead of Ardie Savea. With former skipper Sam Cane stepping away from the role earlier in May, many believed it was Savea’s time to step into the role on a full-time basis.

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But then there are the players who didn’t make the cut. Sir John Kirwan had labelled Ruben Love as the front-runner for the All Blacks’ No. 15 jumper early in the Super Rugby Pacific season, but the Hurricanes fullback missed out on the squad completely.

Blues backrower Hoskins Sotutu was another big omission after a season which saw the 25-year-old finish as the equal-top try scorer. Another Blues player who didn’t make the grade was first five-eighth Harry Plummer, who steered the team to glory with a win over the Chiefs.

While some fans or possibly even pundits may consider Plummer unfortunate not to make the All Blacks for what would’ve been the first time, Justin Marshall doesn’t quite see it that way.

“I totally feel that Harry Plummer… the way that he played just suited the way that Vern Cotter was playing and he fitted into it with a consummate ease,” Marshall said told Martin Devlin on The Platform earlier this week.

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“The way that he was able to do all the right things, make good decisions, kick his goals, make his tackles, it was faultless and he didn’t put a foot wrong. You have to say he was one of the reasons that they won that championship.

“But again, it’s a big ask, isn’t it? Yes, there’s been some players that are bolters like Tosi and Wallace Siti who have been in the system but they haven’t really played a lot of rugby at the high level over a period of years.

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“I would say probably he’s not unlucky to make the All Blacks because I just feel that’s a step that he hasn’t taken yet in terms of he hasn’t been involved with New Zealand A. Stepping into teams outside of Super Rugby really does show your ability to be able to control things.

“Ruben Love, they obviously didn’t want to take a gamble on him – he is an out-and-out fullback. For some reason (Shaun) Stevenson doesn’t enter into the factor as well.

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“There’s always unlucky players out there. Hoskins Sotutu is pretty much like Harry Plummer.”

With Plummer missing out, coach ‘Razor’ Robertson has turned to two familiar playmakers ahead of two Tests against England and a clash with Fiji. Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie are in a race to wear the No. 10 jersey in just over one week’s time.

McKenzie has long been the understudy behind Barrett and former Crusaders pivot Richie Mo’unga, but it seems like now is the time for the 29-year-old to step up.

The likes of Hoskins Sotutu, the Brumbies’ Tom Wright and Crusaders wing Sevu Reece were all standouts on an individual basis this season, and McKenzie is also part of the MVP discussion after yet another campaign.

But after being asked about the players selected and the others who, like Plummer, didn’t make the squad, Marshall agreed that Robertson picked this group with a particular focus on winning these upcoming Tests rather than development.

“Doing that will create the method, the confidence and that ruthless edge to win World Cups because you actually care about every Test match, you care about every performance,” Marshall explained.

(If) we start doing that then World Cups will take care of themselves because you’ll go to tournaments and you’ll win on tough days, you’ll learn to fight for every inch and for every minute of a game simply because you want to do it every week rather than just try and peak at a certain stage.

“I certainly hope that’s the mindset, in fact, I know that will be the mindset of Scott Robertson. He absolutely loves winning and I certainly feel that the infectious nature of the way that he coaches will filter into all the players and we’ll see a high level of consistency in the time that he’s got the coaching (role) for the All Blacks.”

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Comments

15 Comments
R
Red and White Dynamight 19 days ago

Plummer was noticeably good for the Blues this season. Only because he has been so poor for the previous 2-3 seasons. Super is his ceiling. Mind you, so is Perofeta and he’s still in there.

J
Jasyn 20 days ago

Knowing our obsession with it, they probably would have put him at fullback anyway.

There isn't a single proper 15 in the squad. Again.

N
Number 16 20 days ago

Let’s be honest, Marshall would consider Plummer and Hoskins unlucky if they played for the Crusaders and weren’t selected.

You can’t rely on him for impartial comment when it comes to Auckland / Blues

L
Liam 21 days ago

Is this written by AI now? Tom Wright isn't available for AB selection, nothing to do with this article.

P
Patrick 21 days ago

I like 90% of New Zealand wish Marshall would just shut his big know all mouth.

D
David 21 days ago

The AB coach has two choices - win or win. Even against the current No 1 ranked team. That’s the job Razor hustled after and now has to deliver. At least, so far, he has been given a better reception than Ian Foster.

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finn 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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