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‘Too much responsibility’: All Blacks greats weigh in on Ruben Love debate

By Finn Morton
Ruben Love of the Hurricanes in action during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Western Force and Hurricanes at HBF Park, on February 23, 2024, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Legendary All Blacks Jeff Wilson, Mils Muliaina and Sir John Kirwan have unanimously agreed that one of New Zealand’s brightest rugby prospects, Ruben Love, is better off at fullback.


Love, now 22, debuted for the Hurricanes off the bench in Super Rugby Aotearoa a few years ago before going on to play six matches as the team’s starting No. 10 in 2020.

While the playmaker impressed as one of the Hurricanes’ options at flyhalf, Love slowly began to shift into a new role as he started three matches at fullback the following year.

Injuries aside, Love has played plenty of rugby out the back, including the All Blacks XV’s win over Ireland A in Dublin a couple of years ago and the Hurricanes’ Super Rugby Pacific season-opener in Perth last Friday night.

Love stood out as the Hurricanes ran away with a commanding 44-14 win over the Western Force at HBF Park. But the New Zealander did that at fullback, not at flyhalf.

“I really enjoyed what he’s doing,” former All Black Jeff Wilson said on Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown.

“(Last week) I talked about whether he’d play 10 or 15 but at the moment it’s in the 15 jersey for me.


“I just want him to stay healthy, I said that last week. I really like the skillset, I like his intent, he’s a competitor, you know that… he’s got great feet.

“I’m just really impressed. It was just nice to see him get a good start to the season.”

Match Summary

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Turnovers Won

Love showed some masterful skill to lay the foundations for Jordi Viljoen’s try on debut for the Hurricanes. But that was just one highlight.

The fullback finished the night with an impressive knock on the stat sheet, with Love running the ball seven times for 88 metres and making two line breaks.


Echoing the sentiment of Wilson’s comments, Rugby World Cup-winning All Black Mils Muliaina said the Hurricanes would be giving Love “too much responsibility” if they chose to move him.

“I think he’s best suited at 15. He’s got that sort of ability,” Muliaina said.

“His flair, and he’s been out for a while, so putting him in at 10 I think just gives him too much responsibility initially but I think his position is fullback.

“The way he attacks, his mindset is to attack first.”

Prompted to add to the discussion by Muliaina, another Rugby World Cup winner agreed that Love is a fullback and that shouldn’t change for now.

“One or the other for me,” Kirwan added.

“I think Barrett can do it, (play) 10 and 15, maybe (Stephen) Perofeta can, but I actually don’t think that everyone can.

“For me, Love needs to stay at fullback if he’s going to have a crack or they need to put him at 10 and he needs to stay there.

“When you’re a mature 10 you can go back, possibly, but I just think he’s got a lot of ability and I like him at 15.”


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