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What a Scott Robertson-coached All Blacks lineup might look like

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Aaron Gillions/Photosport)

The question on everyone’s lips in New Zealand is when is Scott Robertson taking over the All Blacks? But the real question should be, what changes would he make if he was in charge?

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The Crusaders head coach has won six Super Rugby titles in the six years he has been in charge of the Christchurch-based side, so you would expect a large contingent of his players would be included in his All Blacks team.

Here’s what a potential Scott Robertson-coached All Blacks lineup might look like with Razor calling the shots.

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1. George Bower

The Crusaders loosehead prop was already an All Black starter against Ireland, taking over the starting role from the injured Joe Moody. He would be expected to keep his place in the front row.

2. Samisoni Taukei’aho

You’d expect Codie Taylor to get the job at hooker, but after a faltering lineout in the third test, Robertson shouldn’t resist the power of blockbusting Chiefs rake Samisoni Taukei’aho to added some much needed impact to the carry game.

3. Ofa Tu’ungafasi

After Nepo Laulala’s performance in the third test, the more experienced tighthead Ofa Tu’ungafasi would likely get his starting job back.

4. Tupou Vaa’i

Although the Retallick-Whitelock combo has been in play for a long time, all good things come to an end. With Whitelock being so critical to running the All Blacks lineout, Retallick falls out of the side for the young Chiefs lock Tupou Vaa’i.

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5. Sam Whitelock

The All Blacks and Crusaders veteran gets the nod to pack down in the second row and keep New Zealand’s lineout humming.

6. Scott Barrett (c)

Unfortunately ruled out of the final test, Barrett replenishes the role at blindside, offering an extra jumping option for the All Blacks pack. One of the form players in Super Rugby under Robertson, leading the Crusaders to this year’s title, the best Barrett brother would be expected to make waves under Razor’s coaching and would wear the captain’s badge with an eye on the future.

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7. Ardie Savea

Perhaps the biggest selection move is at No 7, where Ardie Savea takes over from Sam Cane. When Savea is on the hunt, he brings some sorely needed poaching ability to the All Blacks defence.

8. Cullen Grace

Robertson quipped during the Super Rugby Pacific playoffs that Cullen Grace was “playing like an All Black”, so the one-test No 8 would surely see a recall if Robertson took charge of the All Blacks. Grace would be handed the role at the back of the scrum to become the next Kieran Read.

9. Aaron Smith

With probably a couple more seasons of Aaron Smith’s career left, Robertson would probably back the centurion to do the job at halfback.

10. Richie Mo’unga

Richie Mo, aka Mr Super Rugby, gets another shot to prove his test rugby credentials with the backing of Robertson to run the All Blacks backline like a point guard.

11. Rieko Ioane

The whole Ioane-at-centre thing would be thrown in the can under Robertson as the Blues weapon reprises his role on the left wing, where he won his World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award in 2017.

12. Jordie Barrett

Yes, Jordie is back at 12. But wait, there’s more. The one-time Canterbury second-five is back in the saddle with his Lincoln Uni teammate Jack Goodhue. A NPC-winning midfield combination under Robertson, Barrett’s potential would be unleashed at second-five as absolutely drills his opposition into the turf with his massive shoulder.

13. Jack Goodhue

Goodhue returns to the 13 jersey to bring some distribution back into the midfield. The Crusader brings his offloading game into the mix to ignite the All Blacks attack.

14. Sevu Reece

The Crusaders right wing is no stranger to scoring tries on the end of Robertson’s backline. Reece keeps the 14 jersey and continues his hot scoring form.

15. Will Jordan

Possibly the best rugby player in New Zealand, the explosive Will Jordan gets a chance at the back in the 15 jersey. A tall man, he is just as safe under the high ball.

Reserves

16. Codie Taylor
17. Ethan De Groot
18. Tamaiti Williams
19. Quintin Strange
20. Shannon Frizell / Hoskins Sotutu / Akira Ioane
21. Folau Fakatava
22. Beauden Barrett
23. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Let us know your preferred lineup in the comments below.

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Comments

13 Comments
G
Gary 730 days ago

I agree with the team selections but would have Whitelock as captain.
Scott Robertson picks players in their preferred positions that they are experienced in.
AB's coaches Henry, Hansen and Foster all pick players out of position resulting in losses in big games. I like that Scott Robertson does not subscribe to this sort of woolley thinking.
Next is to play these selections together to build combinations

M
Martin 734 days ago

Mate he would put Cane at 7 all day long.

J
Jamie 2 734 days ago

I believe the legacy of being a Crusaders coach provides no favours if an All Black head coach position is on offer, it seems managing a successful team of highly efficient and experienced players with an established winning mojo does not make an All Black head coach, an assistant coach maybe but not a head coach.
A rejected Robbie Deans went to coach the Wallabies after not getting the All Black head coach job and probably revealed a few things about restarting an underperforming team from scratch, it does take some time. In Australia Deans Wallabies played 74 games and won 49 times losing 29 and drawing twice, he won 3 times against the All Blacks and drew once, his team won 9 times from 14 games versus the Boks. Deans suffered similar pressure to Foster during his Wallaby tenure resigning in 2013 after a series loss to the British and Irish Lions, he continues to be a successful coach in Japan.
If Razor gets a cold shoulder from the NZR board he will likely follow Dean's as a coach for hire and NZ rugby will be the lesser for it, but having said that and using Deans coaching experience with the ARU as an example, there's no guarantee Robertson's influence would be enough if the AB team culture needs restructuring from the ground up, especially if NZ want to win next years RWC.

S
Shane 735 days ago

This is exactly why I don't want Robertson to coach the All Blacks. S Barrett as captain, are you kidding me? He's not a test player let alone a captain. There's so many others in this side who must be dropped, such as Whitelock. The one thing I do agree would happen is he would have lots of Crusaders players. That's also not a good thing. I just hope that IF Robertson gets the coaching job NZR include a clause in the contract stating that he is NOT to breakdance. Also there are plenty of other NZ coaches around with successful international experience, such as Schmidt and Gatland.

B
Brett 735 days ago

If we going to be biased my loose forward trio would be frizel at 6 akira at 8 and savea as captain and 7. 3 players who can add something more to the game and with Ardie pushing them making sure they going that extra mile there’s no reason they couldn’t become a formidable loose forward trio but that’s my biased opinion

A
Andrew 735 days ago

2 looseheads in the reserve? Lost me there Champ.

B
B 735 days ago

Pretty stupid article. Scott Barrett as captain? Scooter’s only asserted himself as a starter at 6 in the last few tests. If Sam Cane is to be dropped as captain no one other than Sam Whitelock or Ardie Savea will get the captains armband. Quin Strange on the bench is a joke as well, he’s not even in the top 5 of locks in the country. Annoys me that people get paid to write this nonsense.

A
Another 735 days ago

Ridiculous article. All the writer has done here is project their own preferred selection and then pretend it is what Scott Robertson would do.

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