All Blacks need combos, not individuals
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Liam Messam and Israel Dagg must be pleased as punch and probably wish to have a word in Steve Hansen's ear following Saturday's All Blacks Bledisloe Cup draw.
Why change a winning team, when we all know that it is the team in rugby that counts?
Blaming the referee or the weather are hollow excuses. The All Blacks can play decisive rugby in wet weather. I recall a test in the 1990s in Wellington in atrocious conditions where they put 30 points on the board against Australia.
Rugby is about combinations, not individuals, especially in the back three, the loose forwards and 9 and 10 positions.
For most of last year Messam, Sam Cane and Kieran Reid got us through, not Richie McCaw or Jerome Kaino. At the back, Dagg was in virtually every game.
Hansen is rather missing the point - it's not a huge range of skills that is needed in every position, it's the few that are needed to make the combination function.
Fullbacks do not need the same skills as wingers, they need the skills to compliment them.
It's not a competition amongst the back three of who can do the most or who is the classiest. Fullbacks often let the other two shine.
Messam has also shown that he brings some skills to the loose forward combination that few if any other blindside in the world does. He's a ball player and team player, as the Chiefs have shown in the last three year.
Kaino had a couple of big hits, but he does not link and has never been on list for the number 7 jersey.
The Blues did not gel as a team, and Kaino's contribution was not exactly something to be in awe of.
Hansen needs to look at the team as a whole, and put less emphasis on individuals. He also needs to reward the players who have stuck it out, not had a sabbatical, played overseas for big money or been frequently injured. Not doing that will only undermine the future of New Zealand rugby.
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