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Aisle be Back: The Razor era begins

Razor enters the room. Photo: Peter McDonald.

  • By Kevin McCarthy

Quick question. Who is Scott Robertson playing this weekend in Dunedin?

Well duh, Steve Borthwick and England.

Which of course is true but let me just posit that in fact Razor is playing Razor.

The newly-minted All Black coach is really going up against the Super Rugby maestro coach, the man who delivered an unprecedented and probably never to be matched run of success at club level.

In plainer language, will that Super Razor translate into international Razor with the same stellar success.

If you have a longish memory, you’ll remember the way that the Cantablacks experiment did not produce gold at international level. Not that much else was working at the time either, to be fair.

There’s no doubting the air of anticipation around the debut of Robertson as national coach. It’s exciting to see talk of ripping up the old playbook – not that necessarily you’d want to throw out everything that got the team to a world cup final last year.

But there needs to be some tempering of expectations – and indeed it’s coming from the All Black camp itself – that this won’t be an immediate transformation.

The shadow of old Robertson can’t be that easily shaken off, however. Everyone will be parsing the performance on Saturday and looking for where the Crusaders DNA is being worked in.

And what is that DNA? If it was easy to analyse, then it would be easy to replicate, but in my mind’s eye, the Crusaders of old were like the Terminator in the T2 movie. Always relentless, always coming back, always in the game. A nightmare for any opposition.

In All Blacks terms, probably last achieved during the days of Richie McCaw et al at their absolute peak. A team that could produce that flawless last death try against Ireland in Dublin in 2013.

Will that be the Razor All Blacks? One would think so, but anyone expecting an exact copy will likely be disappointed. I’ve got no doubt that with the modern game so much subject to scrutiny and analysis, that Robertson and co know that to stand still will be to lose.

The other aspect of the Robertson v Robertson clash is that the new coach is up against the old coach’s record as a winner – a serial winner.

By those impossible standards, the new world order has some immense boots to fill. There is always the niggling thought that super rugby is not international rugby, and certainly not subject to the white hot glare of being All Blacks coach.

Luckily there will be plenty of opportunity even in just the first season to find out more.

As for the opposition, who would have thought England would be welcomed as being newly converted standard bearers for some running rugby? Especially when at the world cup they produced perhaps the most excruciating defensive kicking game ever seen at test level, in trying and almost toppling the Springboks.

But there you are. The wheel does turn, although we should reserve judgement as to what new model England are like until after fulltime.

As for the All Blacks selection, it’s a huge thrill to see TJ Perenara back at number 9. A testimony to grit and resolve. Let the fun begin.

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