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.

1 Hames
2 Taylor
3 Laulala
4 Romano
5 Bird
6 Dixon
7 Todd
8 Squire
9 Kerr-Barlow
10 Cruden
11 Piutau
12 SBW
13 Fekitoa
14 NMS
15 Smith

16 Harris
17 Crockett
18 Faumuina
19 Luatua
20 Taufua
21 Perenara
22 McKenzie
23 Tamanivalu

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.

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  1. Who wrote this… very well written and of course the answer is… the Ireland ‘B’ team beat the Boks!

    Without a doubt the NZ Maori would beat them let alone the Junior AB’s!!!

  2. Ah yes it’s Aldo… another thing you forgot to mention is that on top of the contracting system and all the unions being on the same page and of course their first side… they also have the Junior AB’s, Maori AB’s and now the NZ Barbarians. That’s effectively an extra 70 odd players on top of the 30 odd AB’s… 100 players all being kept in the AB loop, under the same structures, more thank likely stopping player drain and ensuring that the transition into the AB side through enforced injury, form or retirement is seamless!

  3. Thanks Bryce, it was a first attempt of hopefully many. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Those are good reasons you mention. There are probably even more. We are light years behind the Kiwi’s in terms on national setup. If only we had rugby people in charge and not fools who are mostly in it to use SA Rugby coffers as a personal trust fund.

  4. Nice on Aldo, good read.

    Just to add, the last time the ABs lost in NZ was in 2009 to the Boks. A whole 43 tests ago. Peter de Villiers was coach and John Smit the captain.

    They really have made NZ a fortress when playing there.

  5. Good arty Aldo.

    We just dont plan ahead. Meyer did in 2002 at Bulls and got to eat cake. White did in 2004 and got to eat cake.

    Both times it was individuals and not SARU or a union putting together sport scientists or strategists to forge a new medium-term path.

    Snor did not planning. Meyer as coach wanted to eat cake using 2002 ingredients and bombed.

    Show me the long term planning project in SA that can yield fruit in future? There is one, and its currently coaching/managing Munster.

    No union locally is playing the long game. Everyone just buys the next school star and hopes to win the next month.

    This is in stark contrast to even Leinster where I was happy to spend some time working on a skills program. Everything is about a) seeing talent b) developing it with a long term goal, c)nurturing it to keep performing.

    They dont pick the next school star and squeeze him ripe like we did with Pollard, Goosen and soon Bosch. Its all about planning long into the future – something that simply does not happen here.

  6. Irish centre Garry Ringrose is a prime example.

    He was a school star and also a star in the Irish under 20 side despite at the time still being tiny.

    He made his Leinster debut in 2014 and immediately made an impact. He is O Driscoll type talent.

    The reason you dont know him is because Schmidt refused to pick him for the World Cup or even the SA tour, saying the player needs to delevelop a wealth of experience to be able to last the distance as a centre in the modern game.

    Schmidt mentions the workload and physical demands of playing 12/13 and how players first need to become smart before they can play 50 tests at international level. Push them too early and they will play 10 tests and fade.

    Now imagine the same long term view was taken for a JJ Engelbrecht and Serfontein and the likes?

  7. @Cheetah Glory:
    True CG. It has long irked me that we constantly see the next big thing in every sports star coming out of school. Where has the development of the current kid gone to? I read today that Ardie Savea already toured with the All Blacks back in 2013 or 2014. That is long term planning. Only making his run on debut this weekend. We have no such planning in SA. Every bright star gets thrown in the deep end, because Naas once said if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.

    We need to nurture talent and build kids, instead we break them down by pro claiming them to be the next Big thing and then throwing them away next month when the next big thing comes along.

  8. You think at Bok level this is bad – now imagine the carry-on at unions! Imagine for example Bosch is given ample time, say 2 years, to develop under Lambie? Imagine Bosch gets to accumulate say 50 Sharks caps and then is slowly brought into Bok team?

    Instead the poor kid is so flavour of the month we will ask him to debut V England at Twickenham with our powderpuff pack.

  9. @Aldo: yes that line by Naas was for amateur rugby where they played 12 games a year and only the prop and hooker went to the gym.

    There was no money or fame involved.

    Today a kid needs to be strong enough to last. Hell even O Connor from Oz broke down and he looked ready but physically was not.

    But kids also need to learn the media game, learn to handle sudden fame and endorsements as well as money.

  10. Someone said it well the other day – by the time you become a bok you need to be a professional sportsman.

    That takes time and lots of guidance.

  11. I heard it’s raining. Makes it a hell of a lot closer than the odds we had, if our forwards show up that is. At those odds, sunday lunch might be on the Boks for you!

  12. @Aldo:

    Pudding was one me… hahaha… fancy betting on your own team ‘only’ to lose by x amount… hiding like I had said…

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