NZ Rugby World - - Steinlager Series 2018 -

1 Waisake Na­holo

It’s not as if he has done any­thing wrong, played poorly or has any­thing to prove as such.

But there is just this sense with Na­holo that he has never quite con­sis­tently de­liv­ered all he could and the early prom­ise he showed in 2015 has never been ful­filled.

In­jury has dis­rupted his abil­ity to play reg­u­larly and con­sec­u­tively so his goal in this se­ries must be to win a start­ing spot and play with such free­dom and ac­cu­racy that he never has to give it up.

The out­side backs have ridicu­lous com­pe­ti­tion for places and Na­holo will need to put down a few rea­sons as to why he de­serves to be picked.

2 Vaea Fi­fita

He’s a bit like Na­holo in that he hasn’t done any­thing wrong, but again, it would be nice to be given a pow­er­ful re­minder of what he can do.

He an­nounced him­self so dra­mat­i­cally on the test stage last year with his in­cred­i­ble per­for­mance against Ar­gentina in New Ply­mouth, but he hasn’t man­aged any­thing like that since.

He should see a bit of game time in this se­ries to lay down a marker about his readi­ness to push on and be­come a reg­u­lar All Black.

His pace, ath­leti­cism and phys­i­cal­ity are all be­yond doubt but he needs to use them all ef­fec­tively against France and show that he’s de­vel­op­ing and ad­vanc­ing as a cred­i­ble force on the blind­side.

3 Damian McKen­zie

Al­most cer­tainly this is go­ing to be a big se­ries for McKen­zie. Beau­den Bar­rett is go­ing to start and play the bulk of the min­utes, but McKen­zie is in­evitably go­ing to fea­ture in the No 10 role for some pe­ri­ods of the se­ries.

He’s in pos­ses­sion of a rare skill set as every­one knows and he can do the most mirac­u­lous things. But he can also be loose, al­most ca­sual and way too am­bi­tious in some of his de­ci­sion­mak­ing.

He needs to show the right bal­ance in his game, not do too much, but not shirk his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties ei­ther and end the se­ries hav­ing calmed every­one’s nerves that he can be a safe pair of hands from the bench.

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