Cory Jane feels like he's living in the land of giants. As rugby swings away from the kick and chase tactics that plagued the game a few years ago, the idea of selecting three fullbacks has gone out of fashion.
Pure finishers like Julian Savea and Hosea Gear are back in vogue, and at Murrayfield on Monday Scotland will field a 1.93-metre former lock in Tim Visser on the left flank.
"Yep, they're going back to the big wings again, it's getting ridiculous," Jane said yesterday. "The boys are all 100kg plus and I'm stuck there on 90kg."
It's a trend that should leave Jane feeling a tad inadequate and possibly a little insecure that he might find himself phased out like old technology.
Instead, he sees it as a positive sign that rugby is moving away from the kick-heavy game that's seen him perhaps best known for his ability to catch high balls.
"It is switching back. So many kicking plays came about in 2009 it was a depressing stage so now wings are being able to be wings again," Jane said.
"Wings these days are starting to read it [the kicking game] and catching high balls.
"It helps if you've been in both positions [fullback and wing], but a few of these 100kg guys probably couldn't play fullback."
The last part is delivered with a facetious grin and Jane notes most modern players are reliable under the high ball.
But it's not up for debate that Jane is a unique asset, a multi-skilled all-rounder whose creative qualities provide a point of difference to the pure power and pace of bigger rivals.
After his first full season as a devoted wing at Super Rugby level, Jane is now comfortable with his role, regardless of his physical dimensions.
"I got to learn what suited me instead of trying to do what every other wing was supposed to do.
"I learned what was best for me, and I might not be the best at crashing up off lineout and scrum, but I do other things well. I've learned to understand my role."
As the only specialist right wing in the All Blacks squad Jane is sure to be utilised in coming weeks, although he rightly points out Savea, Gear and Ben Smith are all capable of playing in the No 14 jersey.
Ironically, one area Jane would like to have less influence is in catching opposition high balls and he's confident the All Blacks' northern opponents will attack them on foot more than in previous seasons.
"This year I've had a couple put up on me. The other wings don't seem to have any put on them, it's always me. That's all good, it's part of the job as a wing, you have to be able to catch them because you can be exploited if you don't.
"It's all good catching high balls, but it's pretty bloody boring. We want to run with the ball, that's our style and by the looks of things the boys up here want to do the same thing."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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