The Wallabies have Jordan Petaia. The All Blacks have five Petaias: 5 things we learnt

Super Rugby - AU
by Christy Doran

Australian rugby has Jordan Petaia, the All Blacks have a handful of Jordan Petaias.

If Dave Rennie didn't already know the extraordinary amount of talent and depth on display in New Zealand rugby (he does), their North v South clash was a reminder of the challenge that lays ahead for the New Zealander to overturn 17 years of Bledisloe pain and see the Wallabies return to former glories.

The good news is that the All Blacks can only ever have 15 on the park at anyone point in time.

The North v South clash was never going to be a game for the ages.

After all, these two squads had less than a week together to train and with no crowds allowed to watch, the spectacle was always going to have an emptiness about it.

Even still, both squads went hammer and tong against one another with All Blacks spots up for grabs in the post-Steve Hansen era.

Caleb Clarke looks like a younger, fitter, quicker and more skillful version of Julian 'The Bus' Savea.

The New Zealand Sevens product was the breakout star of Super Rugby Aotearoa and continued his scintillating form.

Then there's Will Jordan, the most impressive and complete young back in New Zealand who like Ben Smith manages to make the game look easy.

His matchwinning leap and grab was Israel Folau-esque as he jumped into the sky like an AFL player taking the ball ahead of Mitch Hunt with his hands pointed to the heavens and came down on two feet to score.

These two represent the new breed of All Blacks; one powerful, the other silky smooth.

Then there's the Crusaders duo Sevu Reece and George Bridge, who started at the World Cup and both know their way to the tryline.

Throw in Beauden Barrett, younger bro Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane and the equation is scary for the Wallabies. There's pace to burn out wide, and we haven't even got to Richie Mo'unga - the game's best young playmaker, who has delivered the Crusaders four straight titles.

Make no mistake, Australian rugby is getting their ducks in order.

They, too, have some exciting young blood coming through the system, including playmakers Noah Lolesio and Will Harrison, as well as Reds back-row duo Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson, Waratahs prop Angus Bell and lock Trevor Hosea.

But are they ready to face the All Blacks?

It'd be one heck of a task.

Petaia is the one back who could currently compete to make Ian Foster's All Blacks side.

From the moment he returned off the bench against the Brumbies last month from a seven-month injury layoff he's looked a class above.

He was once again phenomenal against the Brumbies on Saturday night, threatening to break Dan McKellar's side open with every touch.

The 20-year-old has the unique ability to keep the ball alive through staying alive in contact and managing to find an offload.

There is hope though for the Wallabies.

Eddie Jones' England managed to force the All Blacks into errors through a shrewd game-plan and brilliant defensive system.

Over to you Dave.


We all know that the Reds won the Super Rugby title in 2011, but their rebirth really kick started in 2009 and started showing great signs a year later in 2010.

That's where the Reds look like they are now.

They're not the complete product, but they're showing genuine signs of becoming a force not just in Australia but also if the tournament were to be expanded to a trans-Tasman competition.

In fact the Reds outscored the Crusaders earlier in the year, but missed all four conversions and left the South Island reflecting on what could have been.

Jim McKay has the Reds running hot and should they get past the Rebels as expected, Dan McKellar will be a nervous man as the Brumbies try to lift their first Super Rugby title since 2004.


McKellar has a decision to make: If Noah Lolesio is fit does he recalled his 20-year-old young gun immediately?

In his absence, Bayley Kuenzle has been running the ship at fly-half.

But Kuenzle's form has been up and down.

A week earlier against the Force he was very good. He ran to the line and challenged the Force's defence.

But that was against a passive defensive line and a forward pack with some aging tight-five forwards.

Against the Reds' young bulls, Kuenzle didn't have nearly as much space or time and the Brumbies' attack failed to fire.

Lolesio hasn't played since injuring his hamstring on July 18.

It'd be one almighty ask to bring him straight back in the final with no game-time under his belt in two months.


Bravo to the Rebels for qualifying for their maiden finals berth.

But if they wish to go any farther in the competition, they'll have to drastically improve against the Reds.

Had Nick Frisby not inexplicably kicked out on the full in the 76th minute against the Rebels it could well have been game, set, and match for Dave Wessels' men.

The Rebels lacked the execution required in the big moments.

They bombed a number of tries and appeared nervous.

Dane Haylett-Petty's classy try showed though that when their premier players step up they can be competitive.

Meanwhile, Cameron Orr and Hosea are two young tight-five forwards continuing to impress.

Orr's play in the open has been exceptional all season.

A month ago he sent Jordan Uelese in to score with some lovely hands and a soft touch from a lineout.

On Saturday afternoon he thought he was a fly-half and threw a sublime on the run long cutout pass to send Reece Hodge in to score.

Hosea, too, is another man putting himself in front of Australia's selectors.

He's talented at the lineout, pulled off a crucial charge down on Ian Prior and has a strong work-rate.


Nic White is still the favourite to wear the No.9 jersey for the Wallabies next month.

But Tate McDermott once again showed why he will definitely be a part of Rennie's squad and likely feature in a matchday team, albeit probably off the bench to begin with.

White might have a stronger passing game and, with the benefit of experience, be able to control the tempo of a match better, but there's no doubting that McDermott is challenging him for a starting jersey.

Against the Brumbies, McDermott was everywhere.

His trysaving tackle on Tevita Kuridrani typified McDermot's never-say-die attitude.

In attack, he probed and looked for space and his running game is a refreshing feature in Australian rugby.

Like any good halfback too, his support play shows by how regularly he finds the tryline.

His five-pointer late in the second-half sealed the deal against the Brumbies.