1. The Ref. Ok we have to start somewhere so it might as well be here. Simply not good enough in any phase of play from Cruden’s try (really?) To McCaw’s turnover in the second half (off feet, use of hands at ruck, not supporting own bodyweight, to the Coles Sin-binning (just a fiasco from incident start to incident finish). We really should expect and get much better. Very worrying 12 months out from a RWC.
2. Goalkicking. We called this last week here. 2 from 5 (Cruden) and 3 from 8 (Total) is just not good enough despite the “Respect the Kickers” prompts being heeded by the Twickenham crowd in a really nice touch. More worrying was Barrett’s terrible shank with his first kick straight after coming on. Just as a reminder there have been a total of 4 tries scored in the last 3 RWC Finals. Goal-kicking is what wins the big ones.
3. The new All Black Jersey. Very slick but just one problem, what number was each player wearing? Gun Metal Grey sounds cool as a concept but doesn’t stand out very well against black. I wonder what AIG will think when they get a bit muddy ?
4. Conrad Smith. Conrad was pulled, subbed, dragged, replaced. Yes its true. Watch England’s brilliant first try by Jonny May closely and you will see Smith line May up and get completely skinned on the outside – worrying. Time for the All Blacks to start giving their Number 13 Insurance Policy (Ryan Crotty) a lot more time in that shirt – there’s simply no one else.
5. Changes. Charlie Faumuina, Jeremy Thrush and Patrick Tuipolutu are pressing incumbents Owen Franks and Sam Whitelock very close for starting spots at present. While next week’s game against Scotland will be a chance for Hansen to give some players a run, the following weeks test against Wales is Hansen’s last chance to see if he can squeeze one more game out of 2 players who are clearly struggling at present. Hansen has been very loyal over the years but I sense he may be running out of patience somewhat with these 2.