Who will wear the coveted No 11 jersey when the All Blacks kick off their international campaign?


Jonah Lomu made the All Blacks No 11 jersey well-known resulting from his unimaginable performances on the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Whereas the function of a left wing has advanced over the previous twenty years, the flexibility to bust tackles and make line breaks remains to be held within the highest regard and it’s these attributes which have made the likes of Joe Rokocoko, Julian Savea and Rieko Ioane so profitable for New Zealand.

Heading into the 2021 take a look at season, it’s anybody’s guess who will slot in on the left wing, with Caleb Clarke placing his profession on maintain to affix the New Zealand sevens crew within the quest for Olympics gold.

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The panel of Ross Karl, James Parsons and Bryn Corridor discuss all of the motion and information from the week of rugby in New Zealand and the world over.

George Bridge wore the No 11 on the Rugby World Cup and began 2020 because the incumbent however spent a lot of the 12 months on the sidelines by way of harm.

Whereas Bridge made a profitable return for the Crusaders within the latter phases of Tremendous Rugby Aotearoa, he’s once more underneath an harm cloud and there’s a really actual likelihood he gained’t function once more earlier than the worldwide season kicks off.

In the meantime, the uncapped trio of Salesi Rayasi, Jona Nareki and Leicester Fainga’anuku have all stood out at instances for his or her respective franchises.

Talking on the most recent episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod, Tremendous Rugby centurions Bryn Corridor and James Parsons have assessed the deserves of the boys who’re almost certainly to don the All Blacks’ No 11 jersey for the approaching marketing campaign.

“I feel George Bridge must be there,” stated Corridor of his Crusaders teammate. “He’s the incumbent with Caleb Clarke being away and with George’s performances when he was again, earlier than his harm, he was enjoying some actually good footy and the All Blacks know what they’re going to get with George. He’s a confirmed performer.”

“[Leicester’s] again on the wing, he’s performed a whole lot of wing after which he’s performed a whole lot of centre this 12 months for us. We’ve talked about him beforehand on the pod, with him having the ability to have that double function round winger and midfielder, which could possibly be huge in a crew choice.

“The one factor that I do like about Nareki is he’s in all probability one of the best left-foot kicking possibility in New Zealand in that left wing spot. I feel he’s higher than George Bridge and Leicester in terms of that kicking. He does loads with it for the Highlanders, it will get them out very well within the exit zones, so I feel that’s one in every of his foremost variations.

“After which Rayasi, should you’re speaking round a man that one-on-one can beat you and poses an X-factor and particularly on the subsequent degree, he’s one man that may do this. I feel one factor for him that I’d wish to see a bit of bit extra is simply his work charge off the ball and getting second touches and holding onto that ball and actually respecting it. He’s one man that’s been enjoying bloody properly for the Hurricanes.”

Parsons additional advised that Rayasi, the person who topped the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup scoring charts and was nominated for provincial participant of the season, additionally possesses a powerful left boot – an attribute that helps him and Nareki stand out from their contemporaries.

“The Hurricanes use him actually successfully, he’s obtained an enormous boot,” Parsons stated. “I actually prefer it from the sense of exiting. It means you may have a lick of assault and if they carry the winger up and the fullback comes up and there’s area within the backfield, they’ve obtained the massive boot to reap the benefits of it.

“That’s what I like, it provides you the flexibility to take a look at and nonetheless get you out of your exit zone with a kick and in the event that they don’t, in the event that they keep again within the backfield, magnificence, we’ll run, we’ll simply take the area after which we’re enjoying footy. That’s the explanation I prefer it. I like how the Canes do this. Salesi’s nice at making these choices.”

Halfback Corridor additionally advised that if you’re defending a scrum and your opposition have a left foot kicker at their disposal, it may well drive the defence to carry off on spreading out throughout the park, doubtlessly opening up area for the some well-placed kicks.

“If it’s a left-hand aspect scrum and also you’ve obtained a 15-metre blind, what that does within the backfield with having a left winger with a left foot, it simply holds you a bit of bit extra,” he defined. “For a 9 or the backfield, should you’re a fullback or the openside winger, it checks you a bit of bit … It’s fairly laborious to defend if you’ve obtained an out and out left-foot kicking winger.

Parsons additionally put ahead one different left-field suggestion for the left wing spot, nominating Crusaders No 14 Sevu Reece.

Reece notched up seven appearances for the All Blacks in his debut season in 2019, beginning all of these matches on the appropriate wing. Final 12 months, nonetheless, he hit a second-season stoop and made only one additional look for New Zealand.

His type for the Crusaders has improved because the season has progressed and he’s now arguably the best-performing win in Tremendous Rugby Trans-Tasman – however a shift to the left might pave the way in which for higher minutes for the All Blacks this 12 months.

“I feel doubtlessly that Will Jordan might slip into that proper wing place and I don’t assume we are able to ignore the type of Sevu Reece and the work that he’s finished,” stated Parsons.

“I don’t assume he’d look misplaced on the left … It’s that energy winger spot and I feel he’s actually highly effective however I additionally assume he has the work charge of that proper wing. He’s obtained a excessive work charge.

“Keep in mind when Jackson Backyard-Bachop obtained that intercept in opposition to you guys, Bryn, and he got here from the opposite aspect of the sphere and he was on the bottom and he chased him down and he stopped that? That was a vital second within the sport. So he’s obtained the work charge, he’s obtained the facility and he’s good underneath the excessive ball. There’s a whole lot of points to his sport that really fits that blindside wing spot so I feel he must be thought-about as properly.”

With Beuaden Barrett, Jordie Barrett and Damian McKenzie all greater than able to enjoying at fullback, there might be big competitors for the All Blacks’ wing spots – and the nation’s greatest and brightest are all placing their fingers up for choice.

When New Zealand run out in opposition to Tonga of their opening take a look at of the 12 months, nonetheless, who will don the No 11 jersey is anybody’s guess at this stage.

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