Lachlan Boshier is an All Black all day long.
In his play and in the way he carries himself and speaks, the Chiefs and Taranaki flanker screams elite player. More than that, Boshier appears to have enormous leadership potential too.
Not every All Black is captaincy material, but Boshier would be. If only he could crack the squad.
We’re past the point where the 25-year-old can be considered unlucky. His continued omission from the All Blacks isn’t a sign of our enormous loose forward depth.
No, if players such as Du’Plessis Kirifi and Dalton Papalii are All Blacks and he’s not, then there’s more to this than meets the eye.
Boshier couldn’t even get a run in the North v South game having pretty much been the star of the Super Rugby season. It just doesn’t add up.
We’re told that the role of the openside flanker has evolved. That being a genuine ball-carrying option and damaging defender is now preferable to fetching.
That guys who are good on the ground and have great engines aren’t as attractive as explosive athletes.
You assume the people who talk about the evolution of the openside have heard of Michael Jones? They should have. After all, all that’s happening here is that No.7s are now playing the way Jones did way back in the late 1980s.
Richie McCaw was a great All Black and a great openside flanker and, if you’re talking durability and success, then he’s the absolute benchmark. It’s just that Jones was so far ahead of his time that rugby is only just catching up now.
But I digress.
The knock on Boshier is that he’s not a dominant tackler. He’s a very efficient tackler – and in a class of his own when it comes to winning turnovers – but doesn’t hit with the same ferocity Sam Canes does or Ardie Savea.
Boshier is, undoubtedly though, a very fine rugby player and a potential asset to the All Blacks, given how much they rely on turnovers to generate point scoring opportunities. Not to mention a guy who is equally adept at playing blindside flanker, having worked well in tandem with Cane at the Chiefs.
I have to admit it’s the Kirifi bit that’s aggravated me here. I think Boshier should be an All Black, but I can accept that he’s not. Or at least I could until Kirifi got the call-up.
I mean who’s next? Mitchell Karpik?
Kirifi is a cocky little bloke who tries hard to punch above his weight. From the time he turned up in Wellington in 2017 he has certainly carried himself like an All Black and was quick set himself up as Savea’s sidekick.
He plays with vigour and enthusiasm, but there’s not a lot more to his game than that. At least in my opinion.
And there’s the rub.
While I deal in opinions, the All Blacks selectors have facts. Stats for this and stats for that, plus their own first-hand experience of players or feedback from other coaches in the New Zealand Rugby network.
If Boshier isn’t up to it, then Ian Foster, John Plumtree and Grant Fox will have their reasons.
It’s just that, for the life of me, I can’t imagine what they are.
Nor, it appears, can Boshier, who made some very diplomatic comments following Taranaki’s loss to Waikato on Sunday. It doesn’t pay to question the three wise men, but Boshier is entitled to wonder why he’s so far down the pecking order.
At both Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup level, he’s dominated games this year and that’s not something you’d say about Kirifi or Papalii for instance.
As fans, we’re not armed with any additional information. All we’ve got is the eye test and by that measure Boshier is an obvious All Black.
The longer he keeps being excluded, the more people will wonder if there’s more to it than just rugby.
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