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Jim Kayes

Jim Kayes has been covering rugby since the late 1990s across print/online, radio and television with The Dominion Post, Stuff.co.nz, TV3 and Newshub, Radio Live and Radio Sport.  He's been to five World Cups, covered almost 200 All Blacks Tests and was on safari with the Lions when the British and Irish side last toured New Zealand, in 2005.

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OPINION: Baabaas clash had an extra edge

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Jim Kayes     05 Nov 2017     Getty Images

Luatua showcased all his skills in the 22-31 loss to the All Blacks along with a fair bit of pace in a performance that showed why coach Steve Hansen wanted him to stay in New Zealand.

QUICK TAP: ALL BLACKS LIFT TEMPO IN SECOND HALF TO SEE-OFF BAABAAS

Luatua’s shift to Bristol has cleared the way for Liam Squire to emerge as the All Blacks first choice blindside flanker and Vaea Fifita continues to impress with his speed - if not his ability to run a teammate in for what should have been a try.

But Luatua will go down as one who left in his prime - and without ever fully realising his potential in his 15 Test appearances.

If he showed what a loss he is to the All Blacks, Julian Savea showed how far he has slipped with a quiet game that will have done nothing to change the All Blacks coaches’ views of his speed, agility and workrate.

Playing on the right wing he was overshadowed by Waisake Naholo who was busy, powerful, super quick, creative and agile.

He was everything the All Blacks coaches want in their power wing and showed remarkable strength and balance to stay in the field of play to set up TJ Perenara’s try (one of two he helped create).

It was a good afternoon to for Ardie Savea. While he was shaded in the highlights reel by South Africa’s Kwagga Smith, Savea was his usual busy self, powerful in close quarters and underlined his versatility when he moved to No. 8.

Much has been said about the worth of this game. Some feel that because no northern hemisphere payers were available it had lost its merit.
That seems an odd conclusion as a Barbarians game, whoever is representing the famous old club, is never a completely serious match.

Assistant coach Scott Robertson told me training never got beyond games of touch and walking through moves with some players not arriving in London till the eve of the match.

Yet there was an edge to this match that many Barbarians games have not had and the Baabaas gave the All Blacks a bit of a fright in the first half.

For Hansen it was a valuable chance to give his fringe players a run, some of whom have spent much of the year holding tackle bags at training.

He was also able to give Tim Perry, Matt Duffie and Asafo Aumua their All Blacks debuts even if none of the trio did anything of note.

Hansen will have also noted the performances of a couple of the Kiwis in the opposition too with Richie Mo’unga again impressive at first five while Mitchell Drummond was busy when he came on at halfback.

Both have now joined the All Blacks to play in the midweek match against a French selection in Lyon.

Dominic Bird also reinforced the depth New Zealand have at lock with a strong performance that was matched by the All Blacks starting duo of Scott Barrett and Luke Romano.

Of course the match, in front of 62,546 at Twickenham, poured some much need cash in New Zealand Rugby’s coffers as they kept the gate takings.

That will please Steve Tew just as the All Blacks win with a largely inexperienced team who had to overcome a spirited if thrown together opposition, will have satisfied Hansen.