'That's the Brodie Retallick-like mindset': The potential All Blacks bolter at lock
James Tucker has been in great form the Blues so far this season, and this strong form may just be rewarded with a maiden call up to the All Blacks squad.
Speaking on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod former All Black James Parsons believes Tucker is in with a real shot at the All Black squad, given recent performances.
“I definitely think he has an opportunity. There is opportunity in and around that area, whether there may be an injury or senior players coming to the end of their career,” Parsons said.
“Someone like James, he’s always had the talent, he’s always had the body, he’s got the physical attributes, he’s got the game.
“It’s just his body has let him down with injuries. He’s had back-to-back serious injuries which has always held him back. He hasn’t been able to get games on the bounce.
“I think you saw throughout Waikato’s [2021 NPC season], he was up for the NPC Player of the Year, and now he’s back in the frame with the Blues. He’s getting back to back 80-minute shifts. You’re seeing the benefit of that.
“There is definitely no reason why he can’t be in that discussion. Just the way he is playing – that fend, the world’s longest fend, he just dragged that fullback [Reds star Jock Campbell] about 15 metres.
“That’s the Brodie Retallick-like mindset you want to see in these young locks. I think he’s got all the skillset and if he gets the opportunity, I’m pretty sure he’ll make the most of it.”
Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall added that after having come up against Tucker in his sides fixture against the Blues, he got great insight into how Tucker performs on the paddock.
“Just solid, you kind of expect from Tom Coventry [Blues forwards coach] with how his kind of mindset is,” Hall told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod of Tucker.
“The tough stuff in the middle, through contact and collision and being able to win ruck and maul. It is really important when it comes to quick ball. James has been able to do that for the whole year for the Blues.
“He’s probably one of the form players in that Blues team. He probably goes a going a little bit under the radar.”
If he does come into All Blacks consideration, Tucker would be competing with a number of players pushing for selection.
While 132-test veteran Sam Whitelock has looked somewhat below his best in recent test performances, he is still a shoo-in for selection. The same goes for Brodie Retallick, a former World Rugby Player of the Year.
Scott Barrett and Tupou Vaa’i are the other locks who were selected in the All Blacks squad last year, and both of those players appear to have done enough to retain their spots in the 2022 squad.
However, with Patrick Tuipulotu having just finished his sabbatical in Japan, another All Blacks lock spot could be available in the 36-man squad, and Chiefs lock Josh Lord, an All Blacks debutant last year, and Tucker may be the frontrunners for selection.
Who Foster and company select will most likely rest on form in the coming weeks of Super Rugby Pacific.
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