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'I don't see him enough mixing it with our big boys': Springbok legend assesses the All Blacks back row

By Sam Smith
All Blacks v Tonga

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Former Springbok loose forward Schalk Burger has offered his thoughts on the All Blacks back row contingent following the 26-10 defeat in Mbombela.

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Speaking to former All Black halfback Justin Marshall on Sky Sport NZ after the test, Burger was expecting Crusaders lock Scott Barrett to once again take up the No 6 role like he did in the home series against Ireland.

His strong carrying was something that the former Springbok thought would give the All Blacks some go-forward up the middle.

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“I thought it might have happened this week because he’s quite an explosive ball carrier,” Burger responded to Justin Marshall.

“Even though he’s a lock at heart, you need someone to go through the guts.

“We throw it back to a Jerome Kaino of old, against the Boks he’s going to front up for 80 minutes.”

Head coach Ian Foster stuck with Akira Ioane, Sam Cane and Ardie Savea in the loose for the first test against South Africa which Burger described as a ‘one man band’ around the Hurricanes No 8 Savea.

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He said that Cane is not below his best perhaps due to the burden of the captaincy and managing the game situation, while Ioane is a player who can dominate in the wide channels but against the Springboks they need a No 6 to mix it with the ‘big boys’.

“Look, every one of these All Blacks loose forwards are great players, but at the moment if anyone stands out it’s Ardie Savea, sometimes it looks like a one man band because he does a bit of everything,” Burger said.

“It’s hard when you’re a captain in any side and you’re not playing your best and you’ve got a lot on your shoulders and I think that’s where Sam Cane’s at.

“So it’s quite hard to free yourself up, because that pressure just sits there. I think it clouds your judgement on decision-making where the team’s at within a game.

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“And then Akira Ioane, I think I’d pick for certain games, especially when he can dominate in the wide channels.

“He’s like another back, such a nice skillset. But against the Boks, I don’t see him enough mixing it with our big boys and that’s where you’ve got to fight fire with fire, I think, against this Bok defence.”

The All Blacks selected Highlanders blindside flanker Shannon Frizell for the tour in place of newly capped rookie Pita Gus Sowakula as another option at No 6.

Frizell scored the All Blacks only try of the game in a second half cameo but then coughed up possession moments later for fullback Willie le Roux to finish the game in style for the Springboks with a final try.

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