Two Cents Rugby picks five potential squad bolters for the All Blacks in Rugby World Cup year
With the Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup looming, Two Cents Rugby picks five uncapped players who could feature for New Zealand in 2023.
In no particular order, the YouTube star went for three backs and two forwards, so without further ado, here they are. Have your say in the comments.
Two Cent Rugby’s five bolters for the All Blacks
Cam Roigard (Hurricanes)
A lot of New Zealand rugby fans are excited about this talented Hurricanes half-back, largely for his ability on attack.
He has started the majority of the games at nine for the ‘Canes this season and proven himself to be a real handful.
As of Round 12, Roigard had bagged seven tries, with the next best half-back at a mere four. It’s not only tries though where he impresses stats wise as for defenders beaten, clean breaks and run metres, he’s the top New Zealand scrum-half.
His running game is his strength. In terms of his option taking, he runs 12% of the time. Compare that to 8% for Folau Fakatava and 4% for Aaron Smith, so if the All Blacks are looking for someone to bring a point of difference in 2023, it could be Roigard from the bench.
Shaun Stevenson (Chiefs)
The Chiefs outside back has been on absolute fire in 2023, featuring at full-back in most of their matches plus the odd match on the wing or on the bench.
As of Round 12, he had scored a whopping 10 tries as the Chiefs top the Super Rugby table. But for Stevenson his game also goes beyond being able to get over the whitewash. The most clean breaks of any outside back shows his individual attacking threat. Add to that his offloads and the fact he’s clocked up the most try assists of any New Zealand outside back and we see his all-round threat.
Question marks over his defence still linger, but this year he’s been at 73% for his tackles, which is pretty standard for an outside back but not great. He has though even bagged a few defensive turnovers.
With Sevu Reece out long term and Stevenson able to cover both wing and full-back, he could be worth a shout in this Rugby World Cup year.
Tamaiti Williams (Crusaders)
The Crusaders tighthead is one heck of a unit. Weighing in at 144kg and still only 22 years old, he’s more than a bit conspicuous when running out for his team. And running he does, the most run metres for any tighthead in the competition thus far. Add to that his ability to break a tackle and you’ve got some real X-factor in the front-row.
Despite his size he regularly plays more than 50 minutes and even went 73 minutes against the Blues in Round 12. Now all that is well and good, but ultimately, he has to be judged on his scrummaging and tackling. Fortunately, as a part of that Crusaders front-row, he does both very well. Across his first 12 games he’s only conceded seven penalties and his tackling percentage is up at 84.
Still very young and he’s only going to get better.
Tom Christie (Crusaders)
Unfortunately for Christie, he plays in a very competitive position. Certainly, opensides Sam Cane and Dalton Papali’i are ahead of him (plus Ardie Savea when not playing in the number eight jersey).
That being said, he brings something that the other guys don’t do to the same degree, and that’s get through an insane number of tackles. Easily New Zealand’s top tackler, getting an average on 13 per game, and that’s on a Crusaders team who spend more time on attack than defence.
If he’s not tackling, he’s making himself a nuisance at the breakdown, winning on average a turnover per game.
Christie also brings great discipline which isn’t the easiest given his position.
His attacking game isn’t up the same level as some of his rivals, but if the All Blacks decided to balance an attacking back-rower with Christie, we know he’ll hold up his side well.
Emoni Narawa (Chiefs)
Another part of that deadly Chiefs back three, Narawa has been on fire on the right wing.
With Reece out for the long term, things might work out well for Narawa in seeking higher honours.
He hasn’t got the try numbers of teammate Stevenson, but he has still nabbed an impressive six thus far.
One of his main rivals is probably the already capped Mark Telea and Narawa doesn’t have his pure attacking ability. He is the third best outside back for breaking tackles with 37 as of Round 12, but Telea is first with a whopping 52.
That being said, Narawa has a more all-round game. He kicks more, he coughs up less ball and misses fewer tackles than Telea.
Either way the All Blacks have good options, but Narawa seems to be putting his hand up at the right time.
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