One of breakout stars of both seasons of Super Rugby in New Zealand was Chiefs flanker Lachlan Boshier, who was a force over the ball in the first edition of Super Rugby racking up a league leading 13 forced ruck and maul turnovers.
As the Chiefs embarked on a winless Super Rugby Aotearoa, Boshier’s effectiveness wasn’t as visible in the early rounds as new rules played out over the competition. Speaking on this week’s Aotearoa Rugby Pod, Chiefs halfback Brad Weber explained that the rules made players like Boshier less valuable as anyone could win turnovers getting over the ball.
“You do still need to survive the cleanout a little bit,” Weber argued. “In that first game, Damian McKenzie got two turnovers just by touching the ball.
Blues hooker James Parsons agreed that there needs to be a balance to allow those with the skill to survive the cleanout to flourish.
“I reckon that is the beauty of it, because the guys that can survive the cleanout, that’s what makes your point of difference. Every guy in a team has a clear role, and some guys have made a career out of that. I think you have to absorb at least one cleanout,” Parsons said.
“That takes away from guys like Lachlan Boshier, who could potentially make 10-to-12 years living out of being good at that one thing.”
Boshier’s turnover stats dropped at the beginning of Super Rugby Aotearoa as the new ruck interpretations were taking hold of the game, but came back as they changed later in the competition.
“They [turnover stats] came back again in the last couple of games, he was back into it because the interpretations changed and they made you have to survive the cleanout a little bit more,” Weber explained
“So it was interesting at the start, he did drop off but then they came back.”
Parsons had another theory on why Boshier was less effective in the early rounds, as his form in the original Super Rugby season had put him on the radar as a major threat to opposition teams.
“Because he was such a force before Covid, it’s like ‘I want to run at that guy, make him tackle’ because you don’t want that guy hovering.
“Teams were going in with a plan, if we can make Lachlan tackle, it’s going to be one of the other loosies who aren’t as effective as him.
“So that’s why his stats dropped heaps, it wasn’t due to his inefficiency, he was too big a threat that you want to make tackle.
“From a ref’s point of view, they should just take a picture and that’s what it should look like. If it doesn’t look like that, you shouldn’t get the turnover. His feet are directly underneath him and he’s holding his own weight, whereas some guys feet are way back.
“It’s incredible. The way he absorbs the hits, I get nervous for his knees and hits every time.”
Weber added: “He’s just hyper flexible, he can put himself into a suitcase.”
Boshier ended Super Rugby Aotearoa with the third most total turnovers and third most at the breakdown, behind Highlanders duo Dillon Hunt and Marino Mikaele-Tu’u. Parsons likened Hunt’s work to that of current All Black captain Sam Cane, a “traditional seven” who will “tackle his heard out”.
“Dillon’s a good link player, he’s a traditional seven. He will tackle his heart out, he will be good over the ball and he’s one of those guys who will have those support lines,” he said.
“He’s not your Ardie Savea, your Du’Plessis [Kirifi] or Dalton [Papalii] who you can put into that power seven bracket as well. He’s a similar mould to Sammy Cane I suppose, he just hits hard and works all day tirelessly for the team.”
With so much competition in the back row for the All Blacks, there are no guarantees Boshier will be there but Weber is backing him in to be capped, particularly if international rugby is played under the old breakdown rules where he had dominated in the early rounds of Super Rugby.
“He’s 100 percent earned it. Particularly, pre-covid with the old interpretations, if they are going to run with those in international rugby, you got to look at that and think wow, Lachlan will be an absolute beast under those interpretations.
“I certainly think he’s earned his way. He’s only 24 I think so he’s got plenty of years left.”
Parsons also added that diversity in Boshier’s skill set gives him an added edge over some of the other sevens in the mix.
“I think he’s got a point of difference to get him into the team though, his line out work. There are not many sevens as tall as him and have the ability on the ground. I’m thinking from a hooker’s point of view, the more options the better. We’ve already spoken about his breakdown work.
“Gilly [All Blacks trainer Nic Gill] would get him in there and get a bit of size on him, because he would need to bulk up a bit at international level for a seven but there’s a couple areas to his game that the others don’t offer. His ability in the air, his height and that consistency around the breakdown.
“If the All Black selectors listen to this podcast, Boshier’s in,” Blues hooker James Parsons joked, “I want Papalii in there, I’ve got to stop pumping him [Boshier] up.”
Listen to the full episode of Aotearoa Rugby Pod below.
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