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The All Blacks XV star that may be 'ready' for Test rugby

By Finn Morton
Shaun Stevenson of All Blacks scores his and his side's first try during the match between Ireland A and All Blacks XV at RDS Arena in Dublin. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

All Blacks great Ian Jones believes Shaun Stevenson is “ready for the next step up” after his impressive performance against Ireland A in Dublin.

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Stevenson was among the standouts in the historic All Blacks XV clash with Ireland A on Saturday morning (NZT), which the visitors won comfortably 47-17.

The Chiefs utility back opened the scoring at the RDS Arena in the 11th minute, as he reeled in a Damian McKenzie crossfield kick to run in untouched.

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New Zealand had well and truly taken control of the match when the 25-year-old crossed for his second about 14 minutes later, finishing off a brilliant team try.

The All Blacks XV disrupted an Irish lineout before McKenzie, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ruben Love and Stevenson linked up for a stunning 80 metre score.

Some more Stevenson brilliance immediately after the break saw TJ Perenara score, after the 25-year-old made something out of nothing from inside his own 22.

Speaking on SENZ, legendary lock Jones said Stevenson may have proven to himself and to All Blacks selectors that he’s ready for the Test arena.

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“Going over there for some of them, they may rejuvenate their careers,” Jones said on SENZ’s The Rugby Run.

“For some of them it may be ‘am I good enough to play at the next level up?’

“For a guy like Shaun Stevenson, proving to himself to himself and proving to selectors, this guy is actually ready for the next step up if and when he’s needed.

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“If and when he’s needed is through some form slump from the guys above him or an injury. You’re only ever one injury, two injuries away from being in the All Blacks team once you’re in the second XV.”

Perenara is one player who has already been rewarded for starring in the emphatic win in Dublin, having been called up to the All Blacks squad ahead of their clash with Scotland.

Tuivasa-Sheck and Braydon Ennor have also been recalled to the Test squad for the remainder of the year.

After being dropped from the All Blacks ahead of the 1999 Rugby World Cup, Jones reflected on how important it was for him to play for New Zealand A.

“I know the importance of a New Zealand XV because once more going back to my own personal experience, I played New Zealand A in 1999,” Jones added.

“I’d been dropped from the All Blacks. It was a real great opportunity to prove to myself and the All Black selector at the time John Hart that I was still playing at a level that I needed to be playing to go to the World Cup in ’99 which I did.

“A lot of these players will be in exactly the same situation.

“It’s a great avenue for us to keep developing our depth, I think it’s a great avenue to show the selectors that these players are ready when needed.”

The All Blacks XV will take the field once more on tehri 2022 Northern Tour, as they prepare to face Scott Robertson’s Barbarians at Tottenham Stadium this weekend.

As for the All Blacks, they’ll face Scotland at Murrayfield this weekend before finishing their end-of-year tour with a blockbuster against England at Twickenham.

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