Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
World World

Latest Feature

'Sione changed my life by playing rugby' - Tuipulotu's father on emotional Scotland journey

Sione Tuipulotu's Tongan father on how rugby changed his ways as a father and husband.

Jeff Wilson picks the All Blacks with the most to prove against Namibia

By Ned Lester
Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie at All Blacks training. Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

A hurting All Blacks team has traditionally been a dangerous All Blacks team, and given the pain of a record loss to the Springboks failed to produce a win against France, New Zealand now turn to Namibia.


Having put 70 points on the Welwitschias at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, expectations are for another heavy victory for the Kiwis.

The men charged with delivering that win are – outside of the hookers – the same forward pack as round one, just reshuffled throughout the 23. The backline is entirely different.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

With much of the emphasis on the forward pack in recent losses, former All Black Jeff Wilson sees that as the key area for improvement in round two.

“A few guys, particularly up front, I think for Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Nepo Laulala, they should dominate this game,” Wilson told Sky Sport NZ.

“Samisoni Taukei’aho as well. The fact that this experienced front row, the size of that front row should have a real impact on this game.

“They’ve got plenty engine room behind them in terms of their locks, I mean world-class, that combination is back together again in Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick.


“so, I don’t think for this forward pack, particularly the tight five, there are any excuses for me. They should go out and dominate and set a platform that this backline, which has got all sorts of talent – you see the return of Caleb Clarke, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Beauden Barrett should get some sort of front foot ball to work off.

“I don’t think there are any excuses for the group now, with all that experience, they have to perform.”


Set piece penalties have been a theme of recent outings for New Zealand, a red card to lock Scott Barrett not helping things against South Africa.

Injuries to the team’s two starting flankers, Shannon Frizell and Sam Cane, have tested the loose forward depth and handed the young Tupou Vaa’i and Dalton Papali’i some extended minutes.


Vaa’i has been named on the bench for the Namibia Test alongside Scott Barrett, making for no specialist loose forward cover.

Ethan Blackadder touched down in Lyon this week, joining the team as an injury replacement for Emoni Narawa but won’t feature just yet.

While Wilson put the onus on the tight five, his fellow former All Black and pundit Mils Muliaina pointed elsewhere when selecting who needs to put in a big shift against Namibia.

“I think there’s no excuses in terms of our tight five,” he said. “But for me, really, it’s Damian McKenzie.

“I think it’s his game to try and shine. If it was me, I’d put him back to fullback by the end of the game and give him that opportunity”


Join free and tell us what you really think!

Join Free
FEATURE Ireland use their breakdown smarts to outwit Springboks in clash of the titans Ireland use their breakdown smarts to outwit Springboks in clash of the titans