The snowball effect that saw Lachlan Boshier named Super Rugby MVP and catapulted him into the All Blacks selection frame
The former New Plymouth Boys’ High student made just a handful of appearances that year but has been a mainstay in the Chiefs ever since and is on the cusp of playing his 50th game for the franchise.
While Boshier has always been a reliable force for the Chiefs around the park, 2020 has become somewhat of a breakout season for the breakdown specialist – at least from the point of view of your average rugby fan.
For Boshier, however, it’s business as usual.
“I don’t think I was playing too differently,” Boshier told RugbyPass re the five games he mustered before the Super Rugby season was called to a standstill.
“Maybe I was getting a few more turnovers, which maybe people started talking about – but I’m definitely feeling that that sort of snowball effect.”
‘A few more turnovers’ is probably an understatement.
In the Chiefs’ first two games of the season against the Blues and the Crusaders, Boshier forced nine turnovers.
Super Rugby’s next best pilferer, Marnus Schoeman of the Lions, has managed eight turnovers in six matches.
Boshier is now sitting on 13 forced turnovers from five matches – but it’s not just the quantity of the turnovers that has everyone gushing, it’s the quality too, with a number of the steals coming while on defence inside the 22 or immediately after the opposition have made an incisive break.
Just four penalties conceded shows that the Taranaki loose forward is also picking his moments and executing well.
And while Boshier’s further down the pecking order in tackles, he’s still the 14th busiest player on the competition on defence.
Statistically, at least, Boshier started his campaign with an absolute hiss and a roar – which saw him crowned New Zealand’s Super Rugby MVP of the season.
Boshier is happy to be recognised for his performances to date but accredits much of that recognition to the snowball effect.
“I think people start talking and then more people are just hearing what others are saying sort of thing – I’m not too sure,” said Boshier.
“I’m pretty happy with my game this year but I definitely think the media have blown it up quite a bit, which has got people talking more.”
Five of last year's World Cup @AllBlacks have left New Zealand. How will that impact Ian Foster's first squad of the year, which may have to be picked on just the seven rounds of Super Rugby that we've seen so far in 2020? #AllBlacks #SuperRugbyhttps://t.co/WTohoI16W3
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 18, 2020
The fact that a slew of experienced loose forwards departed New Zealand’s shores at the end of last year – including Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Liam Squire, Luke Whitelock, Liam Squire, Jackson Hemopo and Elliot Dixon – hasn’t been lost on Boshier.
“Maybe that sort of cleanout after the World Cup with a few big players gone means they need to talk about someone else,” Boshier said.
Still, like all New Zealanders, the loose forwards end goal is very much national selection.
Boshier was a member of the 2014 New Zealand Under 20 side that finished in third place at the World Championships held on home soil. That side featured several of his future Chiefs teammates, including Atu Moli, Anton Lienert-Brown and Damian McKenzie – three men who are all now a part of the national set-up.
“I don’t really think about it too much but it’s obviously in the back of my mind,” said Boshier.
“Whether I make it or not is a different story but it’s definitely the goal.”
It’s his Chiefs teammates that Boshier credits for the progress that he’s made since he joined the 2012 and 2013 Super Rugby championship winners, particularly their healthy stocks of 2020 loose forwards.
The exact make-up of New Zealand's new-look loose forward trio won't be known for a while, but it's already pretty clear who'll be part of the mix, writes @TomVinicombe. #SuperRugby @AllBlacks #AllBlacks https://t.co/0eVdag2iDF
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 23, 2020
The presence of three specialist openside flankers, Boshier, Karpik and Cane, ensures that there’s plenty of competition and motivation.
“It’s been us three for a while now. I think it’s been good for all three of our games,” Boshier said.
“We sort of feed off each other and that competition is good. We’re always going hard against each other at trainings and always learning off each other or picking each other’s brains.
“I definitely know all three of us enjoy having each other around. We sort of wouldn’t have it any other way, really.”
The abundance of specialist fetchers has also forced Boshier to become a bit more flexible, slotting onto both the open and blindside flanks.
“I’ve sort of mainly played seven growing up and obviously with Sam here I’ve been on the bench or not playing but being able to fill in at six,” said Boshier.
“I think that’s been good for my game, adapting to wherever – but I don’t really see too many differences going on there. You’re sort of trying to do the same thing. Seven’s attending the first ruck or first presence whereas six, maybe second or third, which I’ve adapted to.
“I’m just happy to play wherever, whether it’s on the field or on the bench – just whatever’s best for the team, really, I’m not too fazed.”
Any hopes of an All Blacks jersey – or even a Chiefs jersey – may have to be put on hold for the near future, however, with rugby at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic. Boshier is happy to bide his time and wait.
“I would have liked to just keep it going, keep the momentum rolling but it’s just the way it is,” Boshier said.
“It’s a bit of shame, having to put it to the side, but there are obviously bigger things going on in the world and you want to just kick that in the butt first and hopefully things will start sort of making their way back to normal and we can get into it again in the future.”
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now