All Blacks player ratings: ‘Sensational’ Damian McKenzie answers Test question as ‘important’ veteran thrives on return

Dylan Coetzee
New Zealand fly-half Damian McKenzie.

New Zealand fly-half Damian McKenzie.

Following New Zealand’s narrow 16-15 win over England in Dunedin, here are our All Blacks player ratings for Scott Robertson’s first game at the helm.


15 Stephen Perofeta: In many ways, the full-back vindicated his selection. He was neat with ball in hand, kicked well and left Ben Earl looking for coins before playing Ardie Savea in for a try. Very encouraging outing. 7

14 Sevu Reece: The wing was ecstatic with his 50:22 in the first half and looked for chances to get the ball in hand. He scored a try off a Damian McKenzie crosskick and will be pleased on the whole with his efforts. 7

13 Rieko Ioane: The centre had some nice touches but certainly didn’t catch fire in this Test. 13 is a difficult channel to defend in but he will be upset with missing three tackles and making only five. 5

12 Jordie Barrett: The youngest of the Barretts is a dream 12 for any fly-half as he contributed with his big boot on many exits while also chipping in with some time in the backfield. Outside of that he was ever-present in link-up play and very often took the ball to the line. 7

11 Mark Telea: Slippery. The winger beat a whopping 10 defenders despite being very closely watched by England. He is such an exciting player to watch and it is almost impossible to keep him quiet because he will go looking for the ball in the middle of the park. 7

10 Damian McKenzie: Fans have questioned whether he can manage a game at Test level and tonight he proved he can do just that. DMac was sensational in the aerial contest, kicked really well out of hand including that try assist for Reece and made good decisions for the most part. It was a great shift but the missed kicks at goal and the timed-out penalty count against him – something he must avoid next time out. 8

9 TJ Perenara: So unfortunate to see him injured in his Test return. The veteran started well and grew into the game as it went on but unfortunately hurt his knee just before the break and did not return. N/A

Planet Rugby player ratings key 10 - Career defining performance 9 - Outright blockbuster effort 8 - Significantly influenced the result of the game 7 - Committed and effective outing 6 - Flashes of brilliance outside of executing fundamentals 5 - Fulfilling the role required by position (base level) 4 - Poor execution of fundamentals 3 - Costly errors and/or discipline in the game 2 - Poor performance that directly impacted the result 1 - Grossly ineffective throughout 0 - Should have carried water instead

Power pack

8 Ardie Savea: The world’s best was on song once again with a try and a very important steal at the breakdown. It may not have been his most flashy performance but Savea made good metres in most of his carries and ticked all the boxes required. 7

7 Dalton Papali’i: Easily the All Blacks’ top tackler with a total of 15 on the day. The flank really wanted to make the most of his chance to start and push for the jersey to remain with him. He did just that with a real gutsy shift, one he can build on. 7

6 Samipeni Finau: In only his second Test the blindside showed that he can handle himself at Test level. There was no moment of brilliance from him but he got through his work with 10 tackles and crucially maintained his discipline which has been an issue in the past. 6

5 Patrick Tuipulotu: What a return to the top level! Big Pat T was barnstorming at times in the first half with some powerful carries off quick ball from the scrum-half. It was a super 60 minutes from a veteran who is suddenly very important for the All Blacks again. 7

4 Scott Barrett: The skipper took some flack for his discipline when he was named captain but showed maturity without compromising his physicality. The second-row emptied the tank and did his very best to disrupt as many breakdowns as possible making it hard for the English. 7

3 Tyrel Lomax: Struggled slightly in the scrums with two calls going against him but found some stability in that regard and got some penalties of his own back. Still, he may feel he needed to get more out of his opponent. 5

2 Codie Taylor: The veteran hooker popped up with the ball as often as he could but didn’t have the space to show off his impressive running ability for a big man. Robertson may be tempted to start a more robust hooker next week given the impact of Asafo Aumua. 5

1 Ethan De Groot: Pretty similar to Lomax but the loosehead was penalised less. Still, he would feel like he could have done more in the set-piece. 5

Replacements: Razor used his bench really well and emptied it before the 70th minute. The front-row changes were solid with Aumua in particular showing how much he wants to start. Tupou Vaa’i won the crucial steal at the end. Finlay Christie upped the the second period while Beauden Barrett added some composure and experience which helped close the game out. 7

READ MORE: Rusty All Blacks begin Scott Robertson era with dramatic victory over gallant England as missed kicks prove costly