The Bledisloe Cup is secured for another year and an opportunity has arisen to give Roger Tuivasa-Sheck a start in the No. 12 All Blacks jersey.
That’s the view of former All Blacks Sir John Kirwan, Jeff Wilson and Mils Muliaina, who would all love to see the former Warriors captain splashed into midfield against the Wallabies at Eden Park on Saturday.
The injuries to David Havili and Quinn Tupaea have opened a gap in the All Blacks backline and starting Tuivasa-Sheck would be a direct trade.
Moving full-back Jordie Barrett to his preferred No. 12 position is another option, but the trio of former All Blacks said they are intrigued by what Tuivasa-Sheck could bring.
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“I don’t think he will start Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in 12th place… [but] I would love to see that,” Kirwan said on Sky Sports. Break down show on Sunday.
“Just throw him in cold water. We have the trophy in the closet, the Bledisloe Cup.
“We want to win it [Rugby] Championship, but if you think of the World Championship, I’d like to see Roger Tuivasa-Sheck get a start.
“…I think the biggest decision is what you do with Jordie Barrett because then you change a whole backline…Will [Jordan] the full-back, what are you going to do on the wing?
“I think there are a couple of structural things on defense that we need to look at as well. Our full-back has let us down throughout the championship.
“But we have the trophy, play Roger.”
Although Tuivasa-Sheck was named in the All Blacks squads for the Ireland series and rugby championship, Tuivasa-Sheck’s opportunities were limited to 10 minutes off the bench in the third Test against Ireland.
In recent weeks he has been sent back to the NPC to get more playing time with Auckland but Muliaina said retaining the Bledisloe Cup should give coach Ian Foster some leeway in his selection.
“I think that’s the most important thing, I think it gives him [Foster] The consolation is that we’ve won the trophy now,” said Muliaina.
“People often say, ‘Don’t get things mixed up,’ but I think we have to do that. I think he’s wanted to do that for a long time, put guys on the field and get them to experience Test match footy.
“I still think we have the players to go out there and win and win well.”
Wilson said picking Tuivasa-Sheck in 12th place would be the least disruptive to the backline, although he, too, was concerned about the All Blacks’ defensive problems.
“I think Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has to play in this friendly,” said Wilson.
“I have doubts. We find out what’s happening outside, the connections between our midfield and our underdogs.
“For me there isn’t enough talk that allows the guys to change and the guys get into really bad angles.
“Will Jordan be found out, Caleb Clarke… bad sides because I don’t think there was enough communication to tell them where to go.” They played.
“I honestly have no problem the more I’ve thought about him [Tuivasa-Sheck] from 12 in this test game, because we didn’t make any further changes then.
“It’s just the one. Only thing is you need to find some more spread and kick play that David Havili added.”