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You can't fudge experience

New Zealand/Australia

The Aussies only made one injury enforced change to the team. Ewen McKenzie (Pictured above) explained his thinking as follows in the NZ Herald:

“You can’t fudge experience and I know this group learned a great deal from last week and will be much better for the experience on Saturday night,” McKenzie said.

“We made a decision to reward players that were in-form and who we believed were capable of executing what we are trying to achieve as a group.

“That doesn’t change overnight or following one losing result.

“It’s always important to be conscious of finding a balance between selecting experience against youth but the only way to develop that experience is by providing opportunities to players and hoping they take them.

“Right now, I’m more concerned with how each individual responds to the defeat. We need to fix aspects of our performance but we will get better the more time we spend together.

The retention of Matt Toomua ahead of Quade Cooper is surprising, but luckily the latter is on the bench if things do not work out. The fact that Toomua will not be facing Dan Carter or Aaron Cruden will also help.

For once the All Blacks found themselves in a selection pickle, with the top three contenders for the flyhalf berth not available. Steve Hansen explained his choice of Tom Taylor over Colin Slade as follows:

When Taylor was handed the tee for the Crusaders this year he landed four of his five conversion attempts and also nailed 14 penalties from 15 attempts. He enjoyed a bumper day out against the Rebels in April when he landed seven from eight in a Crusaders win.

The 24-year-old didn’t start a game in the No 10 jersey for the Crusaders during the Super Rugby season as Carter and Tyler Bleyendaal ran the show, but found himself thrust in to a range of different roles, including second-five, centre and fullback.

This may be good news for the Aussies. They face the daunting prospect of having to win away from home after getting thrashed in Australia – never an easy task.

The injury to Luke Romano will also have an impact on a NZ lineout – this aspect of the game is not currently one of their strengths, and losing Romano can weaken the side.

South Africa/Argentina

Much was made in the media this week about last year’s 16 all draw between these two sides. I am fortunate in that I do not have to find material every day to fill a column. All I want to say is that this Bok side is a substantially more mature and experienced side, and I expect them to behave accordingly.

We should see more of the same on Saturday, although I suspect the Argentinians will fare a lot better with no Zulu warrior scaring the living daylights out of them before the match. Fifteen unarmed All Blacks doing the Haka are a much less daunting sight than a man with a shield and an assegai in Soweto.

It will no doubt be a tighter game than last week. The Argentinians have proved their ability to bounce back often enough. The score line is not the most important aspect for me – it is whether we retain that killer instinct right to death – figuratively speaking, of course.

Currie Cup

The Sharks opted for Fred Zeilinga at flyhalf in place of Butch James, and retained Jaques Botes as captain. The Bulls have Handré Pollard on the bench, and WP picked Kurt Coleman at flyhalf. There are a number of promising young flyhalves at the moment, including Tony Jantjies, but thus far, none have really set the scene alight in the way that Eben Etzebeth or Pieter-Steph du Toit did.

If one looks at the predicament the All Blacks have this weekend, I think we need to start focusing on developing the crown princes.

Shame Warne

My kollega help my vanoggend reg toe ek gal afgaan oor Shane Warne se kritiek oor die Engelse se kaptein se benadering tot die spel. Hoe kom jy nou, as jou span drie-nul agter is in die reeks, en gee die wenspan se kaptein gas oor sy konserwatiewe benadering? Net as jou naam Shane Warne is, en jy het soveel baked beans in dat daar nie meer plek is vir al die gas om op die konvensionele wyse uit jou sisteem verwyder te word nie.

Bobby reken dis maar net sy manier om die media op te stook, en die Engelse warm onder die kraag te kry.

Ek dink dis omdat hy, letterlik, ‘n ou windgat is.

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