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Ofisa Tonu'u.

Ofisa is a former All Black and Samoa international. As one of the most prominent halfbacks of the 1990s, Tonu'u won back-to-back Super Rugby titles with the Blues in 1996 and 1997.

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Tonu’u: We need to be tested

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Ofisa Tonu'u     29 Jun 2016     Getty Images

We needed to find out if we could fill the big holes left by our departed legends, what our best combinations are and what type of game plan this new All Blacks side would adopt. 

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While the All Blacks class of 2016 is not the finished product, they have answered a lot of these questions and made the initial steps towards becoming a great team.

From a succession point of view, five players were successfully blooded during the Steinlager Series and one returned after a disappointing 2015. The introduction of these players into the All Blacks environment made for more competition in key spots and enhanced the performance of incumbents.

Players like Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, and Brodie Retallick reaffirmed their place among the world’s best while Beauden Barrett showed there is no better ‘closer’ to a Test match. Kieran Read also shone as skipper and deservedly went unbeaten in his first series as Captain.

From a tactical point of view, the All Blacks have lost none of their ruthless finishing and ability to turn the most minor error from their opponents into points.
The potential is definitely there to develop this team into one that is just as strong as the one that won the 2015 Rugby World Cup – but they must be tested.

There is an expectation from the New Zealand public that the All Blacks will win every game. However that is not always possible – particularly with a rebuilding side.

Going into the next four years ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan, we need to be tested and put under pressure.

To keep improving, we want Australia, South Africa and Argentina to be better than what they have been against their Northern Hemisphere opponents over the past few weeks. When the Investec Rugby Championship is strong, then the All Blacks are strong.

If there was one area of doubt about the All Blacks side, it would be the midfield. While Ryan Crotty, Seta Tamanivalu, George Moala and Malakia Fekitoa all performed solidly during the Wales series, no one fully made the position their own. 

If the All Blacks selectors are looking at a long term option in the midfield then I think Rieko Ioane is a big chance. He has played on the wing for the Blues but is a centre by trade. He is big, powerful, skilful and composed. If he gets a chance in fifteens after the Olympics then I think we could see him in the All Blacks in the near future.

As always with the All Blacks, you never know who will put their hand up. So I look forward to watching the final rounds of Super Rugby to see who will push their claims to be in the All Blacks squad for the Investec Rugby Championship.



Ofisa Tonu’u is a former All Black and Samoa international. As one of the most prominent halfbacks of the 1990s, Tonu’u won back-to-back Super Rugby titles with the Blues in 1996 and 1997.

The views expressed in this article are those of the contributor and not of New Zealand Rugby.