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'You can just see he has everything... His top-end speed is frightening'

The latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra asked how the All Blacks are shaping up for Ireland’s visit.

Will Jordan has been in sensational form.
Will Jordan has been in sensational form.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

AS SPECULATION MOUNTS over who Andy Farrell will name in his extended squad to tour New Zealand this summer, there is similar debate on the other side of the world.

The All Blacks will be looking to bounce back from defeats to Ireland and France in their two most recent games when they take on Farrell’s men in the three-Test series in July.

There is uncertainty over who will line out in several areas of the New Zealand team, as discussed in depth by Eoin Toolan and Murray Kinsella on yesterday’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, which is available to members of The42 every Monday and Wednesday.

The lads talked about how the All Blacks are shaping up for that series against Ireland, reflecting on the Kiwi teams’ performances in Super Rugby Pacific and breaking down Ian Foster’s possible New Zealand squad in each position.

Eoin and Murray highlighted the big decisions facing Foster and analysed the form players in Kiwi rugby, including two very exciting players in the back three: 24-year-old Crusaders fullback Will Jordan and 23-year-old Blues wing Caleb Clarke. 

Murray: “Jordie Barrett is the incumbent at fullback for the All Blacks and Will Jordan has been playing on the wing, where we got loads of glimpses of what he can do.

“But he has been so good at fullback for the Crusaders again this year, Eoin. He seems to have gone to another level completely?”

Eoin: ”We were excited about him last year on the pod because you can just see he has everything. There’s not a side to his game that is particularly poor. 

“He has obviously got really good rugby knowledge because he runs brilliant inside lines off 10, off 9, he understands where space is.

super-rugby-brumbies-crusaders Jordan has scored eight tries in his 10 starts this season. Source: AAP/PA Images

“His top-end speed is frightening. There’s a try he scored against the Hurricanes where he leaves Jordie Barrett for dead, Jordie Barrett is just not getting anywhere near him.

“Those little chips over the top are within his repertoire, he has a good long kicking game. His passing game is generally good – he did throw an intercept against the Brumbies last weekend when the Crusaders were comfortably home. 

“I really, really like him in that 15 jersey and I would think his long-term future is as the fullback. It’s going to be a hell of a battle between him, Barrett, and potentially George Bridge who is another quality player who has played at fullback.”

Murray: “Damian McKenzie as well, he’s been in Japan and seemingly has to come back and play for Waikato in the NPC before he’s considered for the All Blacks. He’s a guy who can play at 10 too.

“On the wings, you’ve got the Crusaders guys. You mentioned Bridge – he probably didn’t have the best tour last year. Sevu Reece is a lethal finisher. Leicester Fainga’anuku is now 22 years old, really prolific and powerful, can play at 13 like Rieko Ioane as well.

“We’ve mentioned Caleb Clarke a few times now. He’s a guy who burst through initially two years ago and you thought he’d never be out of the All Blacks team but he had a tough year in 2021 and now he’s bouncing back incredibly impressively.

“He appears to have learned from that tougher period, adapted and improved his game?”

Eoin: “The defensive side of his game, aerial skills, the pressure that you get exposed to – once teams identify a vulnerability in a player through analysis, they will ruthlessly go after it. That probably happened to Caleb Clarke once he made it on the international scene.

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“He has recovered really well. His broken-field play, his power in contact, his running lines are so, so good. He is that player in the New Zealand backline who could put fear into opposition teams any time he gets the ball. The ABs will need to have that trait somewhere in their backline.

caleb-clarke-celebrates-after-scoring-a-try Caleb Clarke has helped the Blues to the top of the Super Rugby table. Source: Photosport/Brett Phibbs/INPHO

“They’ve often had that in the centres in the past but on the edges, they’ve had a Julian Savea, Hosea Gear, Rico Gear, someone who gets the ball in open play and you know they’ll cause damage.

“Caleb Clarke is the guy in this generation of All Blacks where he just needs to be in the team to be that player and get some fear into the opposition.”

Murray: “It’s those 10 seconds where they suddenly look like an overage player in an U14s match and it doesn’t look like professional rugby. Clarke has had loads of those bursts, even one off a restart recently where he catches the ball and just runs past everyone.

“A young Rieko Ioane was in that bracket when he was on the left wing. I agree, you’ve got to harness that ability and also unleash it.”

Elsewhere on yesterday’s podcast, Eoin and Murray discussed a possible changing of the guard in the All Blacks’ prop stocks, their big dilemma in the back row, whether Beauden Barrett or Richie Mo’unga should start at 10, and the ongoing uncertainty over the Kiwi centre combination.

To get access to The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, which comes out every Monday with Gavan Casey, Bernard Jackman, and Murray Kinsella, as well as every Wednesday with Eoin Toolan, become a member of The42 at members.the42.ie.

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