No Los Pumas: Ma'a Nonu - Back Home in 12
Anticipation; a concept only made sweeter by the events that follow. We have had a good deal of this recently in our rugby world. Talk had been building before each recent Test about the All Blacks potential in the coming performance.
Each approach was anticipated as that coming-together of the complete performance. It was surely their desire and plan. Yet, the moment's that would follow, not quite falling into place. While ultimately a win equates to a job well done, we don't easily do satisfied. Our expectations are as world class as our world champs. We don't want to merely witness a win; we want a beating, even a flogging.
Sunday midday, New Zealand time, as the darkness was brought in via satellite from La Plata, Argentina, we got we wanted. We got our All Best.
This was a Test performance where every player should head to South Africa feeling satisfied like after some good meat; well done; “steaked.”
The All Blacks forward pack would lay the foundation in set phase, then build the edifice of this win at the Breakdown. In the previous Tests, they had not gained the intensity and impetus to provide the brutality through this vital area in our Code. They had warred, but, they had not dominated. Los Pumas felt the full force of any frustration being blown away from the ball. The All Blacks 8 provided the fast phase play; continuity to the assault no defensive unit can contain; call it laid on a plate. Under such playing conditions through the 80, only they can be their worst enemy.
It should surprise few that given the stage that was set by these brutal sorts on the inside, the glamour boys would add their own touch of much class
The Bus would have his best ride on this night. The confidence that can sometimes be the missing component was an abundant traveller. Savea showed his foot skills in the first half and his power game in the second. His best is still to come. That is a frightening concept. Grab your tickets and hold on for the ride of his rugby life.
Cory "He's no plain Jane" has been a fixture on the right. We have not seen enough of his face nor his fend over recent tests. Like the infamous shirt punch, he will sit you down with one extension of a lever; one of his three tries, an ode to this gift that kept giving Juan, his Martin Hernandez, until he was willing no more. Smith and DC would provide much on the insides.
However, the man who would rise to this occasion has been our historic son in 12.
When Ma'a Nonu missed out on the 2007 Rugby World Cup, it was easy to consider this as a sign toward his future in another land. Not so. In that aftermath when we were looking for a 12 who could play 10, to cover for a couple of the class who had left, Nonu rose; redefined this position, while forming a world champion combination with Conrad Smith. We forget his label and our perception of the man in that time. The significance in his growth and dominance is we very easily forget. He has made us forget.
He would put it on a La Plata.
The impact of the human hypeline, Sonny Bill Williams, had resulted in some changes in the midfield. Combinations take time to find their feet, with the performances in the midfield at home versus Los Pumas and the Springboks, moderate at best. Ma'a Nonu had been playing 13 of late, while Conrad Smith went under the knife to restore some vision. This would be the performance where any anxiety and discomfort was dispelled, with Ma'a Nonu in particular running with the strength of mind, body, and will, locked and unloading. Any lack of authority; doubt; gone. Nonu ran without any shadow on his spot. He played confident; decisive; free.
There has been some talk about his future, as he thinks longer term. We hope this performance was a sign he has put these to bed in New Zealand. We hope he stays for our long haul.
The running sock now returns to South Africa. The same Soweto destination where the great John Smit was left out of gas, strewn on the field after Nonu would break, finding Dagg to steal it late. The middle of that New Zealand night rarely blazed so bright.
Some perfect timing to find his best.
If the All Blacks take this attitude to a new altitude, the result will take care of itself.
This is future.
Sit and dwell a while on a 54-15 belting; seven tries to one; an emphatic Test win. The Investec Rugby Championship. OURS.
What Say You?
Until Next Time