Smith’s milestone displays present actuality for Rennie’s ‘good males’

Rugby

The scope of Dave Rennie’s problem was maybe finest evident after the ultimate whistle of Saturday evening’s opening Bledisloe Cup match at Eden Park.

There was Aaron Smith, the World Cup winner and veteran scrum-half, receiving a New Zealand cap to mark his one hundredth Check look within the black jersey.

Later within the dressingroom, Michael Hooper offered Smith with a small reward from the Australian camp, simply as Sam Cane had achieved so when the Wallabies skipper had introduced up the ton in Wellington final 12 months.

Relations between the 2 groups are far much less frosty since Michael Cheika’s departure.

However again to Smith.

Whereas the 32-25 victory represents one other win within the black jersey, it will not go down as one of many halfback’s all-time nice video games. He handed with the accuracy and pace that’s largely unmatched throughout the globe however there have been no line breaks or good flick passes again on the within to a charging Brodie Retallick or Codie Taylor.

The one time he did discover a charging Retallick, the go was appropriately dominated ahead by the TMO and what would have been the strive of the match was scrubbed.

And he did not dominate Wallabies scrum-half Tate McDermott both. McDermott was effectively marked by the All Blacks whereas he had little luck placing forwards by way of holes on the fringes, as he had achieved in opposition to France final month.

However the Queenslander was additionally making simply his sixth Check look. In reality, your entire Wallabies backline tallied simply 45 Exams in complete heading into Saturday evening’s match, with fullback Tom Banks [15] the one participant to have north of 10 worldwide caps.

That is a mammoth margin to simply Smith to start out with, not to mention the 156 different caps unfold throughout the backline. And that is earlier than you add skipper Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Codie Taylor up entrance, with Sam Cane to return later this 12 months, too.

Smith, Whitelock, Retallick and Cane will all go down as greats of the New Zealand recreation, with Richie Mo’unga, Beauden Barrett and some others in all probability monitoring in the identical path.

“He is been phenomenal, hasn’t he,” Rennie mentioned when requested about Smith, a participant who’s early profession he oversaw at provincial group Manawatu. “I feel the standard of his go actually modified the sport that the All Blacks may play.

“He was a fantastic little participant for Manawatu and credit score to Nugget [Smith], he had alternatives to go elsewhere to huge Unions, however him and Aaron Cruden determined to remain in Manawatu. So to go on from there to Tremendous Rugby and play as many Exams as he has is incredible.”

Smith’s achievement and the record of All Blacks treading the identical trajectory completely illustrates the continued actuality for Rennie’s Wallabies overhaul.

Anybody who’s listened to the previous Chiefs and Glasgow coach over the previous 18 months could have heard him converse of the “good males” in his Wallabies squad; he was at it once more forward of Bledisloe I and so too after the match, in-part defending the suspended Marika Koroibete, Isi Naisarani and Pone Fa’amausili.

He additionally spoke glowingly of fly-half Noah Lolesio, who had discovered simply how robust the swirling Eden Park winds had been to grasp.

“We have got a variety of religion within the child, he was glorious in opposition to France,” Rennie mentioned of Lolesio. “However he will get higher and higher, he is 21, and there is a variety of younger males round him as effectively.

“He is rising and a formidable child, too; very assured, nice price ethic.”

Such is Rennie’s perception in Lolesio, it will be an enormous shock to see the Wallabies coach solid his 21-year-old playmaker apart on the again of an off evening with the boot, notably when the remainder of his recreation was largely strong.

More durable picks selections would possibly come within the midfield, again three and back-row, however the combat the Wallabies confirmed inside the ultimate quarter is self-evident of the “good males” Rennie has at his disposal.

Can any of them actually be nice, although? Can they combine it with an skilled All Blacks group, on a constant foundation, that now features a second centurion and a handful of others who may someday attain the identical mark?

Reaching the 10-Check milestone ought to be the primary goal and, as of Saturday evening, Paisami has at the least joined Banks in hitting that mark among the many Wallabies backs.

And identical to Smith did, these Wallabies children have to start out someplace; the All Blacks No. 9 needed to navigate a bump or two of his personal alongside the best way.

The important thing for this group of “good” Australian males and their mentor is to start out this Saturday’s recreation with the identical vigour and endeavour they completed the primary Check with.

And whereas solely Hooper and Slipper can boast the identical milestone as Smith – Matt To’omua is in any other case the closest on 58 Check appearances – Rennie’s rising guard at the least now has a primary, or in some circumstances, second or third run, at Eden Park underneath their belts.

“I would not say daunting, I might say thrilling. There’s all this discuss Eden Park and the way robust it’s to win right here, however our mindset was that we will get two cracks at it for a begin. So you have to embrace that,” the Wallabies coach mentioned

“And we additionally talked about the truth that what’s occurred traditionally counts for nothing on the day, and perhaps the benefit that we have got is we have a variety of younger males who aren’t battle-scarred by the previous; they are not too involved about what Eden Park presents and simply get on the market and play.

“So we’re excited we’re gonna get one other crack subsequent week.”

They will get one other crack on the little bloke often called “Nugget”, too, along with his Check profession locked in by way of 2023. Smith has many extra video games to come back but, although his ascendancy to greatness has lengthy been assured.

He now simply has the cap to show it.

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