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'Who's going to be that Jerome Kaino': The All Black who 'must' start at blindside

By Finn Morton
Shannon Frizell of the All Blacks runs through drills during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Mount Smart Stadium on September 22, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Rugby World Cup winner Israel Dagg believes Shannon Frizell could be the new Jerome Kaino for the All Blacks, and explained why the Test regular “must” start at blindside flanker.

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Frizell has been given regular minutes and opportunities throughout an up and down international season for the All Blacks, and has for the most part done the black jersey justice.

The Highlanders enforcer has become a mainstay of the All Blacks’ matchday squads, and has started four of the last six Tests in the No. 6 jersey.

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While the All Blacks are always under some degree of pressure and scrutiny, New Zealanders were undoubtedly eager to see the men in black put on show in Cardiff last weekend.

And that’s exactly that they did.

While a number of players stood out in the 55-23 win, including record-breaking scrum half Aaron Smith, the new-look loose forward trio has been a popular topic of discussion.

Running out alongside Frizell was Dalton Papali’i at openside flanker, who replaced the injured Sam Cane, and world class Number Eight Ardie Savea.

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All players appeared to play their roles to an elite level, which had former All Black Dagg comparing Frizell to an all-time great.

“Shannon at six, he is a must,” Dagg said on SENZ Mornings.

“We’ve been looking for, ‘who’s going to be that Jerome Kaino that comes in and adds that real oomph at the six position?’ He is our guy.

“He does all the hard work, he carries extremely well, he defends really (well), he’s another lineout option, he’s a big man so he’s a genuine lineout option there for Sammy Whitelock and Scotty Barrett.”

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Captain Sam Cane will miss the rest of the Northern Tour after fracturing his cheekbone against Japan in Tokyo.

But the All Blacks have found a more than suitable replacement in Papali’i, who was one of the standout performers during the dominant win at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

While the Blues flanker potentially has an opportunity during these final two Test matches to stake his claim for that coveted No. 7 jersey, Dagg believes the All Blacks have found their “top loose forward trio.”

“With Sammy Cane’s absence, and we never want an injury to play that part, but Dalton Papali’i really showcased his importance to this team,” he said.

“Not only over the ball and his defensive prowess, but his ability with the ball. Look at him when he made that big break.

“He’s got gas, he’s an actual, genuine ball player and that’s what you want from you loosies, not to be one dimension (but) to add something different.

“I think we’ve really cemented our probably top loose forward trio. Ardie Savea, just so, so good, don’t even need to talk about him anymore.

“But Dalton Papali’i really had his best performance in the black jersey.”

The All Blacks are on a five-Test winning streak at the moment, and will be looking to keep their unbeaten run alive when they visit Murrayfield to take on Scotland this weekend.

New Zealand will then finish their international season with a blockbuster against England at Twickenham, less than a year out from the Rugby World Cup.

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