Martin Devlin: No need to panic over surprising All Blacks changes

Radio Sport,
Publish Date
Thursday, 15 August 2019, 12:46PM

Selectors swing the axe roared the headlines this side.

Desperate All Blacks forced into panic changes screamed the Sydney press. Dramatic and controversial omissions echoed Fox Sports their official television broadcaster. 

It's called clickbait folks. A game the whole industry can play: Open the thesaurus, choose your adjectives, the more exaggerative the better, and apply liberally all over this run on XV, the ABs team announced to play Ozzie in the Bledisloe decider Saturday night.

Yes the resting or rotating of senior established players like Franks, Reiko and Ben Smith will always be cause for reaction. But to think or assume that these actions imply some sort of crisis is stretching the long bow a little too far.

Are these scribes seriously saying that those three players are no longer part of our World Cup plans? Or simply assuming that all three, as a result of recent indifferent form, have fallen  down the pecking order? Because both interpretations are probably wrong. Come September 21st except all 3 to be back in black against South Africa for the WC opener. Or would you prefer that match was the one used to blood Bridge and Reece? We all know, and I'd hope accept, that our team right now is not at the top of their game.

And with only two more matches before the tournament begins time is clearly running out to give every squad member some sort of top level taste of what they might expect in Japan. That's not to say these newbee's can't claim or won't the starting spots come the business end of that competition.

But one thing we do know, hopefully should've learned from past experience, is  that best laid selection plans will probably be upset. No-one, and by that I mean not a single solitary person, thought that Stephen Donald would be steering our ship come the final whistle in 2011.

Point being that injuries will happen, they are almost budgeted into the selector's thinking, and when they do the next cab off the rank has to be able to step in, step up and perform at a world class standard. So given all that, would you prefer these back-up blokes to be making their debuts undersuch circumstance or at least having had some taste of what to expect?

No we're not having the ideal build-up in terms of results, but if the result is we have every player in our 31 ready to go come the main event then maybe what's happening  right now will start to make more sense. Who really knows apart from those in charge what the Masterplan actually is?

If nothing else these 3 major changes might've just provided  the smokescreen that means the return of SBW flies silently under the radar, seeing as his inclusion's caused barely a ripple - something that's perhaps as big a surprise as the nature of those established names dropped. Make no mistake people, the All Blacks are in bounce back mode. And that is very scary for everyone else wanting to win the World Cup.