Razor Watch: All Blacks’ lock crisis, timely returns and predicting Robertson’s first matchday squad

Dylan Coetzee
Split with Patrick Tuipulotu, Ethan de Groot and Scott Robertson.

Split with Patrick Tuipulotu, Ethan de Groot and Scott Robertson.

Then there were just four teams left to slug it out for Super Rugby Pacific glory in 2024 after the completion of the quarter-finals last weekend.

Three New Zealand sides advance in the form of the Hurricanes, Chiefs and Blues while the Highlanders bow out, offering us a lot to discuss in this week’s Razor Watch that comes with the added bonus of predicted All Blacks line-ups.


Jordie Barrett was handed the captain’s armband for the quarter-final against the Rebels and relished the responsibility, leading by example with two try assists on attack and another good defensive outing. He continues to grow as a 12 and is more than likely the All Blacks starter there once again.

TJ Perenara’s form continues and, on face value, is leading the race to scrum-half jersey by some distance. Outside of his ability to always be in and around the tries, he is a seasoned veteran and a leader, making him gold dust for the start of the Scott Robertson era.

In the pack, Brayden Iose was barnstorming last time out, as he has been all season, but as we have said in many other editions of Razor Watch, the depth in the back-row is rather impressive and the Hurricane may be a victim to that. Elsewhere in the pack, Asafo Aumua was a powerhouse yet again and bolsters the hooker depth in New Zealand.


The back-three are all sensational and shone yet again. Shaun Stevenson made his mark in just 40 minutes before being protected. He has been one of those players everyone wanted in the All Blacks over the last couple of seasons but was overlooked largely for his defence. It will be fascinating to see what the new era means for the full-back.

Emoni Narawa is just devastating and give him the ball with space and he will punish the opposition. One would think his All Blacks selection is secure. His wing partner Etene Nanai-Seturo is an interesting player who offers way more than just running ability. The speedster has an educated left boot and slotted into full-back for the second 40 minutes with aplomb. It might not be his time to don the black jersey just yet but he is worth keeping an eye on.

In the midfield, Anton Lienert-Brown was as classy as ever and is a sure bet to have in the All Blacks set-up yet again. Lastly in the backline is inevitably Damian McKenzie, who showed both attacking and game-management qualities in the play-off clash. It is difficult not to see him holding that 10 jersey.

The pack was sensational with Luke Jacobson tackling like a man possessed as did Samipeni Finau while Wallace Sititi was a powerhouse in the carry. It has been like that most of the season and the two flankers will likely get another call-up for the All Blacks while Sititi may have to wait his turn, one would think he is destined to wear the black jersey in the future.

Finally, from the Chiefs is Samisoni Taukei’aho, who is right up there with the strongest players in the world. His power game is unmatched and it is probably a shootout between him and Codie Taylor over who starts for the All Blacks. For Robertson, he can choose between the two depending on what he wants to achieve, with Taylor offering a more dynamic impact rather than Taukei’aho’s raw power.


Caleb Clarke has taken some serious strides this year on his way to becoming the player he has the potential to be. Of course, this hasn’t always translated to Test level, but he will be in the set-up to prove his worth. Unfortunately for him, there are hoards of electric wingers in New Zealand, but he should still be in the squad.

At nine, Finlay Christie will be pleased to get on the scoresheet after an injury-interrupted season thus far, which is unlucky considering the opportunity available after the Cam Roigard injury. A strong finish to the season could help him retain his place in the All Blacks squad.

Dalton Papali’i will always guarantee work rate and did so again. He has already done enough this season and in the past to get the nod from Robertson, whether or not that means he will start is another debate as the form of Hoskins Sotutu could tempt the coaches to move Ardie Savea to flank, which would be at the Blues man’s expense. Meanwhile, Ofa Tu’ungafasi continues his sublime form.


The lone man from Dunedin is Ethan de Groot, who has returned to form just in time to convince Robertson that he is the man to start at loosehead for the upcoming Tests. His main competition would be the form of Hurricane Xavier Numia, who both should get in the squad.

Hammer blow

The last thing Robertson would have wanted to hear is an injury to Patrick Tuipulotu. It was already going to be a brutal task replacing the legendary duo of Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick but now that is made even more difficult as Tuipulotu and Scott Barrett were shaping up nicely as a potential pair. Tupou Vaa’i is a solid option to come in but the concern is what comes next with probably Isaia Walker-Leawere being the next in the line.

Patrick Tuipulotu sidelined, All Blacks legends departed: What are the options at lock for Scott Robertson?

Form-based 23 (SRP 2024)

*This team is based on form only and does not consider players returning from Japan.

Starting XV: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Anton Leinert-Brown, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Mark Tele’a, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Peter Lakai, 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Samisoni Taukai’aho, 1 Xavier Numi
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Quiten Strange, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Cortez Ratima, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Emoni Narawa

Predicted All Blacks matchday 23

There is much to consider with this line-up as players returning from a Japan sabbatical are eligible for selection. That includes Sam Cane, who is set to retire after the 2024 season, suggesting he will be involved. Whether or not he starts is yet to be seen.

Predicted XV: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Mark Tele’a, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Samipeni Finau, 5 Tupou Vaa’i, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Ethan de Groot
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 David Havili, 23 Emoni Narawa

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