Martin Devlin: Now is the time for AB's to sort out issues

Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Thursday, 1 August 2019, 10:37AM

All Black fans now is not the time to panic. And I'm saying this as much to myself as anyone else right now who might be feeling equally angst ridden.

Because it's around this time many of us begin to suffer the full effects of PWCPS, aka Pre World Cup Panic Syndrome.

You know how it goes, "we're old, we're tired, we don't have a settled side, the others have all caught us up, it's a disaster waiting to happen etc"

This time though with just 50 odd days before it all kicks off in Japan I'm attempting to ignore my affliction, determined to try and solve our problems for once rather than sulk about them.

The only thing that matters from here on in is finalising our 1st XV, nailing the overall squad selection and figuring out who plays best in what position.

My three major concerns centre around right wing, midfield pairing and how to blend our 3 best loosies into the most cohesive combo possible.

In terms of #14 I just don't think we're as strong there as we have been in recent seasons when Waisake owned the spot. Ben Smith is a fantastic fullback. That's all I need to say. 

Midfield we have riches to burn so it's more about settling on and sticking to whoever is decided upon as our #1 combination. And then give them the time to blend, time of course not being something we are overly flush with.

Parking those two for now, it's the loose forward trio that's really put me in the foetal position - but not for a lack of world-class talent, more about where to put who we have. Sam Cane is a lock at openside.

Quite simply he is the "Return of Richie", the guy is that good and that influential. Ardie Savea is dynamic, consistent, a ball carrying game breaker who also wears the #7 - when he's not playing equally well at #8 which also just happens to be where captain Kieran sits. And don't even indulge that debate because Read is going nowhere, he's our skipper, he will lead us in Japan. Although he could be switched to 6 and Ardie takes 8?

A worthwhile experiment, if nothing else, which if it was to happen you'd think would probably need to start next weekend in Perth.

So. We do have issues and they do need sorting - and that's exactly what the next 50-odd days and twin Bledisloe tests are for. As I said right at the start, now is not the time to panic. This time round, rather than drown in my own PWCPS, finding a permanent #6 is a much better way to obsess about it.

That and saying a daily prayer for the return of Brodie Retallick.