Aaron Cruden continues to be frozen out of the All Blacks.
Steve Hansen, who recently kicked the playmaker off the tour of Argentina and South Africa because he missed a pre-departure meeting, hasn’t even bothered naming him in the reserves for the test against the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday night.
Instead Beauden Barrett will again start at first five-eighth, while Colin Slade, who can play first-five, wing and fullback, has been listed in the substitutes.
In most cases, comparing a young player with a legend of the game is to burden him with unfair expectation.
To say Julian Savea is the new Jonah Lomu is definitely unfair. Unfair because it is selling Savea short. The 24-year-old wing may already have surpassed Lomu, according to All Black coach Steve Hansen.
Launching pads don’t get much better. With the pressure now off, the All Blacks board a flight to Johannesburg today with strut, swagger and no inhibitions.
Yesterday’s four-try 34-13 win over the Pumas clinched a third successive Rugby Championship title but, more importantly, saw the All Blacks regain their attacking groove.
After two weeks battling New Zealand rain they threw off the shackles in La Plata and now have the freedom to craft a gameplan without worrying about any tournament permutations.
To further enhance their 22-test unbeaten run they will be intent on harnessing that flamboyance for a blockbuster clash of styles rematch with the Springboks.
Meyer Praises fit, gutsy Boks
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Saturday applauded the fitness and never-say-die attitude of his team in defeating Australia 28-10 in the Rugby Championship at DHL Newlands.
The Springboks scored three tries in the last ten minutes to seal a bonus point victory.
“We played great rugby at times in the first half, but their defence was great. We became a bit frustrated because of that, but in the second half the fitness levels and impact from the bench was massive for us; I told our conditioning coach Basil Carzis as much afterwards,” Meyer said.
Major adjustments are not a familiar theme with the All Blacks but that’s exactly what the backline confronts in Argentina this week.
Under Steve Hansen, a consistent selection policy has prevailed. Players must earn their respective chances, or wait for injury to open the door.
This week Aaron Cruden’s ill-advised bender and a lack of depth at second five-eighth will force two serious changes to the inside backs.
First-five Aaron Cruden will miss matches against Argentina and South Africa after a late night drinking incident.
Aaron Cruden was found keeping his head down at his Hamilton home today – over 10,000 kilometres away from his All Blacks team-mates – after he was kicked off the trip to Argentina for having a late night drinking session in Auckland.
The All Blacks may have been grounded in Auckland overnight after their flight to Santiago was cancelled, but their ambitions remain sky-high as they look to keep alive an unbeaten run dating back to November, 2012.
Former coach Sir Graham Henry created a few ripples when he suggested the world champions could do with some adversity ahead of their defence of the global crown next year in England.
Henry spoke of the benefits that come from regathering the forces following a defeat and wondered aloud if the All Blacks, who have lost only one test under Steve Hansen, might be the better for the introspection that follows a loss.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen can see where his predecessor, Sir Graham Henry, is coming from.
But Hansen wants his team to continue improving without the need of a loss as a wake-up call.
Henry, with Hansen as an assistant, steered New Zealand to the World Cup title in 2011.
However, 12 months out from the start of their defence, Henry is worried they might get too used to winning and believes some adversity, namely a loss, might have benefits.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen doesn’t mind having a public pop at the Wallabies, but when it comes to one of world rugby’s enduring rivalries, and South African coach Heyneke Meyer, there is nothing but mutual respect.
“I myself have a huge amount of respect for their coach [Heyneke Meyer]. I think he’s a good man and a good coach,” Hansen said today, ahead of Saturday night’s test against South Africa in Wellington.
“Their captain Jean [de Villiers], having his 100th game [on Saturday] I’d like to congratulate him on that.”
Heyneke Meyer, as every Springbok coach has before him, will have his year’s work measured by how his side goes against the All Blacks.
That is just the way it is in South Africa and Meyer would have known that before he accepted the job. But if anyone thinks it’s a fair contest, and that he is pitting himself against his All Black adversary Steve Hansen on equal terms, they need to think again.
The expectations of South Africans do not match the rugby realities of the two countries. New Zealand’s centralised system, with Super Rugby coaches and players contracted to the NZRFU and everything geared towards making the All Blacks excellent, gives Hansen a leg up that Meyer doesn’t have.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made it clear that Sonny Bill Williams will be on the end of year tour, though there are no guarantees he will play any games.
Hansen has voiced his views on the controversial decision to get Williams instantly into the All Blacks selection mix on his return from rugby league, even though he may not have played for his Counties Manukau union. His selection would be against ordinary New Zealand Rugby regulations.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen disagrees Richie McCaw is a fading force but insists neither he, nor his captain, will be afraid to make the right call to end his illustrious career.
On either side of the Tasman, there are growing concerns an ageing McCaw won’t make it to next year’s World Cup.
Love the rain. Give me a stick of dynamite and I would blow the roof off the Millennium Stadium. Wet weather rugby is a whole new ball game. It demands a higher skill level, a flexible tactical mind and it gives the fate of the contest to the forwards.
Suddenly these All Blacks didn’t look half the team that some people had assumed they were.
Don’t tell me the conditions were impossible or that they ruined the spectacle. And don’t tell it to the 39,523 people, it is still hard to believe the size of the crowd, who were jammed into Wellington’s Athletic Park back in 1996.
The conditions that day were far worse than they were in Sydney last weekend, because a howling wind drove the rain, but those All Blacks played the rugby of the gods.
Kiwi straight-shooter Steve Hansen says the All Blacks can lift 10 or 12 notches from their Bledisloe-opening draw but doubts whether the Wallabies can rise any further.
Hansen has reacted to the 12-12 Sydney stalemate like a loss and admitted widespread criticism of his team’s poor display was wholly warranted.
He said New Zealand needed to improve “just about everything” to continue their amazing 32-Test Eden Park streak on Saturday night.
It was no consolation at all to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen that a post-game meeting with last week’s referee Jaco Peyper yielded a frank “mea culpa” from the South African whistle-blower.
Hansen factored a poor refereeing performance into the contributing reasons for a sub-par All Black performance in last week’s 12-12 draw with the Wallabies in Sydney to open the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup series.
The All Blacks were left feeling “hollow” and “gutted” after their record-equalling test win streak came to a limp end on Saturday night at the Olympic stadium.
To that they might have added relieved at escaping with a draw they scarcely deserved.
Truth be told, the All Blacks were fortunate indeed to slip out of Sydney with a 12-12 stalemate that was flattering to them, after being outplayed in the second half by a Wallabies outfit who just weren’t good enough to close out a victory that was theirs for the taking.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen appears resigned to losing test veteran Tony Woodcock for the rest of 2014 – though he believes there is a significant upside to the loosehead prop’s likely season-ending injury.
Hansen wrapped up the second day of a mini-camp with his non-Crusaders All Blacks in Auckland today, and said the prognosis was looking increasingly dim for Woodcock who was battling a serious shoulder problem.
The All Blacks will get another crack at matching the record for consecutive Tier One Test victories when they face England in Hamilton this weekend.
The record of 17 victories has been reached by the All Blacks side of the late 1960’s and Nick Mallett’s Springbok team of the lates 1990’s, and Richie McCaw will have his third shot as captain at joining them on Saturday.
The Wallabies have twice ended an All Blacks winning streak on 16 victories in recent years, springing a surprise in Hong Kong back in 2010 and then earning a draw in Brisbane in 2012.
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen praised the bravery and class of flyhalf Aaron Cruden for producing the match-winning moment in a tight Test.
Cruden was hailed as the hero of the All Blacks’ last gasp 20-15 win over England at the weekend, not for the five penalties he kicked but for the one he turned down.
Cruden not only caught England napping but also his own teammates when he opted to tap and run when the All Blacks won a handy penalty with the score locked at 15-all.
Steve Hansen could never be accused of being a conservative.
The All Blacks coach has struck a balance between future and present in naming three new caps on the reserves bench to play England at Eden Park on Saturday.
Centre Malakai Fekitoa, lock Patrick Tuipulotu and halfback TJ Perenara have all been named in the 23-man squad for the first test of the international season.
The All Blacks have called up two new players and recalled two World Cup-winners to the squad to face England.
Highlanders midfielder Malakai Fekitoa and Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu are the two uncapped players, whilst loose forwards Jerome Kaino and Victor Vito return after extended absences.
The backs – forwards split sees 17 forwards selected (two hookers, five props, four locks and six loose forwards) and 14 backs (three halfbacks, three first five–eighths, four midfielders and four outside backs) and the squad has a combined total of 1,125 Test caps.
The year was full of spectacular moments and performances as well as disappointing lows and infamous incidents; we name and shame the best and worst in our 2013 Awards.
New Zealand and Wales ruled their respective hemispheres for the second successive year, the All Blacks enjoying a flawless 2013 campaign.
All Blacks and Crusaders vice captain Kieran Read has been named the International Rugby Board’s Player of the Year for 2013.
New Zealand rugby claimed a triple scoop on the awards as the All Blacks were also named team of the year while coach of the year went to Steve Hansen.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was a proud man after a dramatic comeback against Ireland capped an unbeaten year for his side.
The world champions were forced to come from behind to become the first team to win every match in a calendar year in the professional era.
It was not the perfect weekend for the All Blacks, with France running them close. This begs the question whether Daniel Carter is still the flyhalf maestro he once was.
All Blacks coach, Steve Hansen, says the All Blacks will be better against England compared to how they went against France.
As expected, New Zealand All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has given his charges the week off after their stellar performance over the weekend, clinching The Rugby Championship against the Springboks from South Africa.
They are nursing quite a number of bumps and bruises, the result from the hard encounter with the Springboks.
The All Blacks headed to South Africa on Monday banking on the return of talismanic captain Richie McCaw to put the seal on another successful season.
Although New Zealand require just a single bonus point to retain their Rugby Championship title, they are determined to seal it by beating arch rivals South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday.
And the All Blacks are confident they will have McCaw in their arsenal.
Steve Hansen will be taking charge of the Barbarian side that will face Fiji at Twickenham later this year.
New Zealand rejected suggestions that Argentina will resort to foul play in Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test in Hamilton as they brace for a physical challenge from the South Americans.
Argentina came under the microscope after their recent defeat to South Africa, with Leonardo Senatore receiving a nine-week suspension for biting while Pablo Matera was accused of eye-gouging, though he was found not guilty.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen believes New Zealand’s former head coach, Graham Henry, is having an even greater impact over Argentina this year.
Uncapped Hurricanes loose forward Brad Shields has been included in a 30-man All Black training squad who will gather in Auckland this week ahead of the Rugby Championship.
Blues utility back Francis Saili is the second uncapped player included in the squad by All Black coach Steve Hansen, who has as expected welcomed back captain Richie McCaw.
Kieran Read was named as the captain of a 32-man All Blacks squad including six new faces to face France in the upcoming series.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has named 10 uncapped players in a 38-man training squad ahead of New Zealand’s Test series against France.
Hansen says that he has called up an enlarged squad at first as he wants to assess emerging talent in New Zealand Rugby.
All Black flyhalf Dan Carter was named the International Rugby Board Player of the Year at the IRB Awards in London on Monday.
All Black coach Steve Hansen pulled out the big guns for New Zealand’s encounter with Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
Hansen named a hugely experienced and in-form All Black side, with 745 caps in the starting XV and 140 on the eight-man bench.