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'It just doesn't make sense': Ex-All Black blasts handling of Ethan Blackadder

By Ben Smith
Ethan Blackadder of New Zealand warms up prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between New Zealand and Uruguay at Parc Olympique on October 05, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Former All Black Justin Marshall has taken aim at the resting protocols which has seemingly captured all players regardless of their load.

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With seven of the All Blacks from last year’s Rugby World Cup final now plying their trade in Japan, it is imperative for Super Rugby Pacific to have the best players out there every week.

Marshall called for “common sense” when it came to deciding who is required for rest within the All Black squad, taking into account the personal circumstances for each player.

“When we’ve got a product that people are debating where it’s going to go, where are we going to get that excitement back, what you need in that product is the best players turning out each week,” Marshall told The Platform.

“World-class players, internationals, bringing their skillset to every weekend. That’s what people want to tune in to see.

“I get it to a degree, what the All Blacks are trying to do, and how controlling they are, NZR and their policies what they feel is best for the players. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense, common sense.”

The case in point was Crusaders’ loose forward Ethan Blackadder who has barely played since returning to injury suffered in the early rounds of Super Rugby last season.

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The 28-year-old had two games of NPC before being parachuted into the All Blacks’ World Cup squad but only featured in one game in France.

“Let’s think of Ethan Blackadder. Yes he’s got a slight calf issue at the moment but regardless of him having that or not, he’s on mandatory rest,” Marshall explained.

“Mate, he played one game for Tasman, then he got over to the Rugby World Cup where he played only one game over there.

“And yet they put him on All Black rest. That just doesn’t make sense. That guy needs rugby.”

Since Blackadder’s last Crusaders game in June last year, he has played just three games of professional rugby in a 263-day span.

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Host Martin Devlin pointed to Hurricanes’ halfback Cam Roigard who featured off the bench against the Western Force.

Roigard debuted for the All Blacks last season but was not selected in the gameday 23 at the end of the World Cup.

Although he has been overcoming a bicep niggle, he was fit enough to take the field in round one but not start.

“I’d have [Cam] Roigard written down who didn’t play the last three weeks at the World Cup,” Devlin said.

“Play the guy every bloody week, that’s what he wants to do. He needs more game time. Just because he’s an All Black, he’s an inexperienced All Black. So let him play.”

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