'Probably looking to run around him rather than through him'
For the second time this year – and the second time since he first made the step up to test rugby last season – Will Jordan has been named to start in the No 14 jersey for the All Blacks for their upcoming rematch with Fiji.
While Jordan has worn the jersey many a time for the Crusaders in the past, it’s at fullback where he’s most comfortable and found a permanent spot for himself throughout this year’s Super Rugby campaign.
At the Crusaders, however, Jordan is only competing with David Havili for the fullback role – and Havili was shifted into the midfield this year, such is his versatility, after injuries to the first-choice pairing of Jack Goodhue and Braydon Ennor.
On a national level, the No 15 jersey is considerably more highly contested with Damian McKenzie named there to play in front of a home crowd at Hamilton this weekend, Jordie Barrett taking the reins last weekend, and Beauden Barrett an ever-present option too.
But while the right wing might not be Jordan’s preferred position, it’s one where he tasted great success against Tonga two weeks ago, nabbing five tries and causing all sorts of problems for the ‘Ikale Tahi. He’ll be hoping to make a similar impact for the All Blacks this weekend – but he might find a bit more of a challenge taking on his opposite number, with former Crusader Nemani Nadolo expected to again line up on the left wing for Fiji.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Jordan said on Thursday. “I’ve got pretty fond memories of watching Nemani Nadolo play for the Crusaders when I was a young fella coming through. If he’s in the 11 jersey for Fiji, it will be cool to come up against him.
“And across the backline they’ve got some really exciting players so definitely not a forward battle out there, it’s a full-team effort and as backs we’ve got to bring that [firepower].”
At 1.88m tall, Jordan is hardly a small outside back – but he still cedes 7 centimetres and almost 40 kilograms to the behemoth that his Nadolo.
“Na he’s not [getting any smaller],” joked Jordan. “Hopefully I’m not either. I’m certainly probably looking to run around him rather than through him. It’s exciting. Obviously second start for myself so really looking forward to getting out there and getting stuck in.”
Nadolo represented the Crusaders for three seasons, from 2014 until 2016, scoring 27 tries in the process. He was a fan favourite at the club and many will still hold fond memories of seeing the big Fijian destroying opposition in the wider channels – as well as kicking a few penalties to boot.
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That means Jordan may be tasked with taking on more defensive duties than he needed to perform against Tonga, who weren’t able to find their way onto the scoreboard at Mount Smart Stadium earlier this month.
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