Justin Marshall recently stated that a NZ B team could probably beat any top 4 team.
And while it would be difficult to argue with him, it does sound a bit arrogant.
As an exercise, I have put together what I see as an All Black B team.
Now I know some of these players are out injured and not available for selection, but this is a bloody good team.
I could imagine them beating the Boks as well as Aussies. How NZ has this amount of depth coming from such a small country, is mind blowing.
When looking at the current Bok setup where defense and counter rucks as well as clean outs on attack, is a thing of the past, I could easily see them hammer us.
The fact is, that the All Blacks are nearing Legend status, they never lose, they never say die.
In fact, the last time they have tasted defeat is now just over a year ago. They do not lose often and that has given them self belief that is missing in other teams.
Even when the chips are down, they trust the game-plan and more importantly, the players around them.
An All Black knows that the player next to him will do his job. That is what makes them so good.
But that is not the only thing that makes them so good. Their nation grows up learning skills from a young age.
Every school buys into the type og game the All Blacks play, the net result is that almost any reserve can step up and know what to do.
When looking at the Boks, we have two major unions, the Bulls and Stormers, not really sure of which game-plan they wish to follow yet, the Lions playing an expansive game, built around trust and strong set pieces and speed at the breakdown, the Sharks slowly finding their rhythm but also not 100% sure how they want to play yet and the Cheetahs leaking tries, even though they love to attack.
This all translates into a confused bunch when they get to the Boks.
To confuse them even more, you have an inexperienced backline coach, who still needs to learn his trade, a coach under all sorts of political pressure and clearly as confused as the players as to how they should play.
It all just becomes… well confusing.
Sorry, I lost my train of thought there, back to the All Blacks. As you can see from above, every player knows what is expected from him, by the time he gets to the All Blacks.
So would a B team beat the other top 4 nations? Probably, but not just because of depth and talent.
They will beat them, because the structures in NZ rugby, allows them to feel at home and comfortable with the game-plan.
There is a lesson in there for SA Rugby. Let’s hope they can find it.