If Matt Todd was from any other country in world rugby it would probably wouldn’t have taken him five years to make his first start in international rugby.
Todd first broke into professional rugby with the Crusaders in 2011 and was immediately thrust into the Christchurch starting XV as the All Blacks monitored and rested New Zealand captain Richie McCaw.
With McCaw the All Blacks unquestioned starter at openside flanker up until last year’s Rugby World Cup, and with Sam Cane and Ardie Savea replacing the two-time World Cup winner since his retirement from rugby last year, chances have been few and far between for the 28-year-old backrower.
However, given the All Blacks have claimed their fourth Rugby Championship title in five years, New Zealand Head Coach Steve Hansen has given Todd his first start in international rugby with Cane sidelined with a hamstring injury and Ardie Savea moving to the bench.
“The All Blacks are a hard team to make so I guess you work away and hopefully you will get the chance,” Todd told reporters in Durban via stuff.co.nz. “It is what I have tried to do and I am just excited that the opportunity has just arrived now.”
Todd’s first start in the All Blacks famous number 7 jersey will come against South Africa in Durban’s Kings Park on Saturday afternoon, and despite the Springboks mixed start under new head coach Allister Coetzee, Todd still feels that the Boks are still New Zealand’s fiercest foe.
“It is obviously massive. It does not get any bigger than playing the Springboks in South Africa, so to get the opportunity is very exciting.
“It has been a really good week and I cannot wait for Saturday.”
Todd is one of four changes to the All Blacks starting XV with Sam Whitelock coming in for Patrick Tuipulotu in the second row, Jerome Kaino replacing Liam Squire at blinside flanker and Waisake Naholo filling in for Julian Savea who drops out of the matchday squad.
Jack O’Toole, Pundit Arena
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