All Blacks pick a side that promises all-out attack to evade Bok forwards

All Blacks pick a side that promises all-out attack to evade Bok forwards

Just one night to go before the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup (11:30) followed by the opening match where the home side Japan face Russia (12:45) on Thursday...

And there are only two sleeps before the Springboks face the All Blacks in what is  undoubtedly the stand-out pool match-up in the 2019 rugby showpiece.

The All Blacks selectors have come up with the surprise selection of both wings, with George North and Sevu Reece both inexperienced at international level.

However, they are both lethal attackers and the consensus is that their selection points to an all-out ball-in-hand attack by the All Blacks.

Will that approach work on an expected wet and perhaps even a muddy field? Who knows, they play their domestic rugby in those conditions and are exceptionally skilled.

Will the humidity catch up with them? Who knows whether the rain will not nullify that advantage of the Boks who have been heat-training for two weeks.

And then, of course, the selection of Bridge and Reece could perhaps be regarded as an admittance that the All Blacks want to steer clear of the Bok forwards as far as is possible. Rieko Ioane and Ben Smith, who is on the bench, were the wing incumbents.

Sonny Bill Williams is selected to play off the bench with Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown in the midfield, and Matt Todd has a light shoulder injury that will keep him out for this test with Savea playing in the somewhat unfamiliar position as blindside flank.

That will give the All Blacks an advantage at the breakdown but lessen their effectiveness without a big ball carrier at blindside flank.

Oh yes, as expected Beauden Barrett as their fullback and Richie Mo’unga as flyhalf will fulfil the double playmaker role again.

All Blacks –
Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Nepu Laulala, Dane Coles, Joe Moody. Replacements: Codie Taylor, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Angus Ta’avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Shannon Frizell, TJ Perenara, Sonny Bill Williams, Ben Smith.