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Report: New Zealand's unluckiest player heading to Japan

By Tom Vinicombe

Trending on RugbyPass

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The never-ending depth of New Zealand rugby has apparently claimed another casualty, with one of the nation’s most talented players set for a shift to Japan.

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Chiefs flanker Lachlan Boshier has played his last season in NZ according to the New Zealand Herald and will take up a contract with Robbie Deans’ Panasonic Wild Knights at the end of the year.

Tellingly, Boshier took the Chiefs’ final kick at goal of the season, attempting to convert Sean Wainui’s fifth try in the Chiefs’ win over the Waratahs last weekend.

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The 26-year-old flanker has played over half a century of games for the Chiefs franchise, having debuted in 2016, and is two games short of that same mark for Taranaki.

Boshier is widely considered one of the unluckiest men in New Zealand rugby after missing out on national selection over the past year and a half despite being one of the best-performing players in the country.

In 2020, Boshier featured in all but one of the Chiefs’ 13 matches and was the stand-out fetcher throughout the Super Rugby season.

Injury kept Boshier sidelined until halfway through this year’s Aotearoa campaign but his return came at the perfect time, not long after All Blacks captain Sam Cane was invalided due to a pectoral injury – and Boshier quickly picked up where he left off at the end of last season.

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Despite the 26-year-old’s heroics for the Chiefs, Boshier was overlooked by the All Blacks last season in favour of Cane, Ardie Savea, Dalton Papalii and, somewhat surprisingly, Hurricanes tyro Du’Plessis Kirifi.

While Boshier had earned selection in the North Island squad ahead of Kirifi for the one-off match, he missed out on the matchday 23 to Savea and Papalii.

“I pulled Lachlan aside and told him he’s not in the 23 and he’s disappointed and rightly so the way he’s consistently played for the Chiefs this year,” All Blacks assistant coach John Plumtree said at the time. “If you look at the group it’s a tough loose forward trio to break into and that can happen.

“He’s got a couple of things he’s going to work on and he has a bit of direction around that. I’m sure he’s going to get many opportunities above Super level in the future.”

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That opportunity didn’t come last year, however, with Kirifi called up to the national team when the All Blacks were in need of a short-term replacement for Savea.

Earlier this season, Boshier revealed he’d not had any contact with the All Blacks but that he was still toiling away at some of the areas he felt he could improve.

“Maybe a little bit of the ball-carry in the tight stuff,” Boshier told RugbyPass. “I don’t feel I’m doing too bad out in the wide channels but I need to lift the physicality in all areas.

“I’m not the most explosive player but the tank just keeps going and it’s about having that mindset to just carry on and put your head in the dark places”.

If Boshier does indeed head to Japan, he’ll become unavailable for All Blacks selection. While New Zealand does boast incredible depth in the loose forwards, Boshier is perhaps the best exponent of the breakdown in the country and will be a major loss – especially as his best years are still ahead of them.

While the Chiefs have Sam Cane, Mitch Karpik and Luke Jacobson on their books, Boshier is a different style of player to that trio of potential openside flankers and his absence will be keenly felt by the Waikato franchise in the years to come.

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Report: New Zealand's unluckiest player heading to Japan

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