Razor Watch: Prop’s form impossible to ignore as selection picture begins to take shape

Dylan Coetzee
Timoci Tavatavnawai (Highlanders), Xavier Numia (Hurricanes), Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs).

Timoci Tavatavnawai (Highlanders), Xavier Numia (Hurricanes), Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs).

Another weekend of Super Rugby Pacific has gone by which means it is time for Razor Watch where we take a look at All Blacks selection talking points for head coach Scott ‘Razor’ Robertson.

Chiefs contingent

The Chiefs game was an important one for the All Blacks selection picture with Anton Lienert-Brown returning to some impressive form in the midfield outside of Quinn Tupaea who was also brilliant at the weekend. The duo add some impressive depth to the centres selection picture for the All Blacks while Etene Nanai-Seturo looks to be developing nicely as an outside back.

In the pack, number eight Wallace Sititi performed well again and his power on both sides of the ball makes him an interesting candidate. Luke Jacobson was good again as was fellow All Blacks Tupou Vaa’i and Samisoni Taukei’aho, the latter who will be desperate to nail down a starting role.

All Blacks captain Sam Cane to retire from Test rugby in ‘best decision’ for his family

Hurricanes performers

TJ Perenara is looking in sublime form at the moment as he extended his try record in Super Rugby Pacific. One would think he will take up a key role in the All Blacks set-up probably as a starter (especially in the absence of the injured Cameron Roigard) and one of the team’s leaders.

Elsewhere in the Hurricanes camp is Peter Lakai who features yet again in Razor Watch. The back-row is quality and crisp in just about everything he does. It is so clear to see why he has been touted as a future star and Robertson may want to ease him into the set-up.

The form New Zealand loosehead is, without doubt, Xavier Numia who continuously puts in blockbuster performance after blockbuster performance. We just don’t see a world where this kind of form gets ignored.

Highlanders bolters

Fly-half Cam Millar scored 27 points as the Highlanders beat the Crusaders at home. Not only was he pinpoint with the boot but commanded open play and scored a try of his own. Of course, it is a long shot to say he will be in the All Blacks picture but performances like his will certainly get more eyes following the former New Zealand U20 star.

Interestingly, Fijian-born Timoci Tavatavanawai’s move to the Dunedin side makes him eligible for the All Blacks. The powerhouse is always beating defenders and is one of the leaders of the breakdown turnover stats this season. Whether Robertson has considered the star thus far remains to be seen but he is a dark horse for selection.

Crashing Crusaders

The David Havili experiment continues and there is certainly merit to it, however, it does not help with the team falling to another loss. The jury is still out as to whether Havili is a realistic fly-half option at a level higher than club rugby but it is still too soon to make a call. Turning the Crusaders around would go a long way in helping.

A positive of their recent defeat was Noah Hotham’s performance from scrum-half including eight defenders beaten and a try assist. Scrum-half is an interesting position in the All Black set-up where any serious bolter could be considered. He will need to continue this form and have it positively influence Crusaders results before he would be deemed a ‘serious bolter’.

What will make Robertson happy is how Codie Taylor returned from a non-playing sabbatical with a bang despite losing. He will play a big role in the hooker picture this year.

READ MORE: Who will Scott Robertson pick to take over the All Blacks captaincy from retiring Sam Cane?