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Aisle be Back: The Lions wrap, the Black Ferns and the All Blacks in Japan

  • By Kevin McCarthy

The greatest pleasure I took from the Wellington Lions’ NPC triumph last weekend was seeing the team celebrate, but none celebrating harder than Jackson Garden-Bachop.

The first-five is of course departing to Japan, having missed out on a Hurricanes spot.

On Saturday he scored 2 conversions from 2, and 3 from 4 penalties – or half the team points –  in 57 minutes on the park.

A solid day, a winning day and a great end – maybe – to his Lions career where I think he’s copped an undue amount of flak. I lost count of the social media posts in the past couple of years calling for his dropping or worst.

Of course his greatest sin was not being Beauden Barrett. Very few people are Beauden Barrett. Some days, not even Beauden Barrett.

I guess it’s the miserable flipside of a first-five that they’ll wear the heat the most when a team underperforms.

Anyway he is heading with family to a new phase in his career in Japan. And those keyboard warriors? Well, as usual, they’re going nowhere.

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It’ll be interesting to see if the Black Ferns come out firing from the start, or suffer another case of the early yips in their quarter-final against Wales.  No-one expects them to lose – but how they do so will set up expectations ahead of their likely semi final opponents France.

Wayne Smith of course has wisely reminded everyone of that All Blacks team that had a certain World Cup match where they were warm favourites. And then proceeded to exit.

The atmosphere will be crackling on Saturday – but nothing compared to what a semi-final would be.

As to the great scheduling clash drama, a few years ago I had to synchronise our work diary with a government overseas trip to the US. Try as I could, and accepting my tendency to be not very good at converting international time zones, the times from the government did not make sense.

Turns out they were wrong. Hey, people make mistakes. In this rugby case, a bad one, an embarrassing one, and one they tried to fix.

But it’s not a conspiracy to take the spotlight off the women’s world cup – which inadvertently has turned into a big fan success. Who knew?

Can I suggest if you are perturbed, they yes, watch the men’s game on replay if you have streaming. Or just watch the women’s game on free to air, when it’s on an hour or so delay.

Not sure when that Silver Lake expertise on marketing is going to kick in, but soon would be good.

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Finally, them All Blacks.

It should be a great watch on Saturday against japan, who are nobody’s fools these days. And Foster’s men are no strangers to making unfortunate history.

With a raft of absent players, we’re finally going to see some of the bench riders out there. None more so than RTS. That will be very intriguing.

No room left I’m afraid to talk about Super Rugby squads or the upcoming season. Hey, that’s a summer sport, and we ain’t in summer yet.

Teams:

 

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