Selecting Ryan Crotty instead of starting Malakai Fekitoa for the weekends test against the Wallabies was one of the more surprising selections in todays All Black squad announcement.
Based on ability, and certainly experience, Crotty’s place in the starting 15 cannot be questioned. The centre has been one of the most consistent performers for the Crusaders, and on the occasions that he has come off the bench for the All Blacks, he has played well and settled into the back line.
Even for those who haven’t seen much of him, if you’ve seen any rugby in the last year or read any of the news, when you hear the name Ryan Crotty you know that the guy is a very good rugby player.
Crotty has more experience, and it seems that the All Blacks want to play an attacking brand of football this weekend.
Malakai Fekitoa’s skill and ability cannot be forgotten though, and many would have thought that with Ma’a Nonu out, Fekitoa would have been a sure fire selection for his third test match start.
The media hype and attention on Fekitoa back during the English series, particularly in the Hamilton match, has warranted a test match start at Eden Park on its own.
From what the NZ public has seen, both Fekitoa and Crotty are two very good players, but it would be a stretch to say that Crotty being put ahead of Fekitoa wasn’t a slight surprise. For some, it was a surprise, and surprising selections particularly in regards to the starters, are not exactly what this All Black side needs with the current negative press they have been receiving.
But the All Blacks don’t, and shouldn’t care about the negative press, and the negative opinions some columnists around the traps have been expressing this week.
Ryan Crotty, like Fekitoa, is a hell of a rugby player and he more than deserves a chance to start this weekend.