- By Kevin McCarthy
He is of course one of those players who was marked down at an early stage as a potential Rolls Royce, but sadly with a Ford Escort engine.Let’s try this experiment. Treat Akira Ioane as if you’ve never seen him before, when he starts his first test this weekend in Brisbane.
Akira has never helped his cause by indeed turning in variable performances, and never quite cracking the top tier.
A lot of people will watch for him to go missing this weekend. Which is not fair.
Yes, he’s there because it’s a dead rubber, and a good chance to try out the next tier in the squad.
But they still don’t give starting caps too easily in the All Blacks. So I reckon we should give Akira more than the benefit of the doubt. He’s there because he’s said by the coaches to have done the work on his acknowledged faults.
Given Akira has admitted to dark days and almost quitting, let’s celebrate he’s got his shot at the big time. Park up the baggage and enjoy the show.
As for the rest of the team, well, on a different day, it would be a damn fine starting first XV. Welcome back Mr Laumape. Here’s hoping for the sort of unchained performance that puts him back in the matrix for the future All Black midfield. It’s still curious that he is overlooked by some commentators.
Of course then there’s Asafo Aumua off the bench, along with Cullen Grace and Will Jordan.
Dave Rennie no doubt always suspected it might be like this, but he must still look wistfully at what Foster can draw on resource-wise. Usually a B-team is weaker. Not much evidence of this here.
The Wallabies coaching job always comes with that millstone – having to play the All Blacks repetitively and over a short space of time. They will no doubt be happy to have a change of menu with the Pumas.
It’s a shield challenge this Sunday, in case you’ve let it slip while watching the US election or your painted wall dry.
So the Lions will have both a shot at the log against Hawke’s Bay and the chance to stay in the Premiership top four.
The Bay are however running hot in the Championship tier, in second, and plenty of motivation besides the Shield. Whereas the Lions are having a so-so season.
Pay your money and take your choice as they say. No way it’s going to be dull.
Meanwhile, what is happening in Canterbury? There will soon have to be a total news blackout for the populace there if the red and blacks, quite probably, tumble into the lower tier.
Could the rot spread upwards? Perish the thought.
🎥 WATCH | Fossie gives us the rundown on some of his selections for this weekend's Investec Tri Nations clash with Australia. pic.twitter.com/KzqfUNwwrj
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 5, 2020