‘If you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ – this may be the adage Steve Hansen applies to his future All Black test selections.
Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett have already shown that inexperience is no barrier for talent and as we see here, there are no shortage of young up-and-comers ready for the famous All Black shirt.
The Bash Brothers – Asafo Aumua and Alex Fidow
Aumua will be known to many readers following his jaw-dropping charges for the Under 20 Baby Blacks and the Wellington Lions. Will he be named for the Northern tour squad? Aumua has scored seven tries from limited game time in the National Championship, and is surely putting serious heat on Nathan Harris’ grip on the third-choice hooker position. Alex Fidow or ‘The Axe’ is 133kg, 1.87 metres and 20 years old. He’s also scored seven tries for the Lions and was a key part of the U20 World Cup winning side. Apart from his size, Fidow has quite a turn of pace and like Aumua, the offloading and passing skills of a midfielder. With injuries to first-line props Joe Moody and Owen Franks, if the All Blacks suffer anymore, Fidow’s game, like his stature -is too big to be ignored.
Another product of the U20 side, Ennor played midfield in the tournament but has since shifted to the left wing for Canterbury and has made every post a winner since, with a table-topping 10 tries in the Premiership including four in one game. Power, pace and accuracy -a very level head on young shoulders and with his utility value and a new Crusaders Super Rugby contract, he could be figuring in Steve Hansen’s plans next season.
Will Jordan was nominated for Player of the Tournament in Georgia, ahead of the likes of Aumua and Ennor. He has a touch of Ben Smith about him, with excellent pace and outstanding rugby intelligence, with the ability to find gaps, put himself in try-scoring positions and know when to back himself. Jordan has been starring for the Tasman Makos at national level, although with the logjam of talent at fullback for the All Blacks ( Ben Smith, Damian McKenzie, Jordie Barrett, David Havili, Israel Dagg), Jordan may have to bide his time longer or develop greater utility value.
Perofeta is a man for the big occasion, stepping into the injured Tiaan Falcon’s shoes at flyhalf for the U20 final against England, and then playing one of his first first class games against no less than the British and Irish Lions. Perofeta’s game is maturing at a rapid rate, and he has been impressing immensely for Taranaki at national level. Hopefully, his game will be allowed to develop at the Blues next season, because his footwork is electric and his all-round game could be something special.