How recently departed All Blacks have ‘passed the baton’ to rising stars

Dane Coles v4

As the All Blacks transition into a new era, the mentorship and guidance provided by seasoned veterans were proving instrumental in shaping the next generation of leaders on the field, Ryan said. 
Speaking on the All Blacks Podcast, Ryan highlighted examples of how this mentorship had translated into improvements among up-and-coming players.  
One standout player Ryan mentioned was Asafo Aumua, the dynamic hooker for the Hurricanes.  
"Asafo, he’s playing some good rugby at the moment, and Colesy (Dane Coles) has set him up," he said, referring to the influence of former All Black Dane Coles, whose guidance and high standards had played their part in the younger player's approach to the game. 
Another player receiving high praise from Ryan was Chiefs lock Tupou Vaa'i.  
"Tupou Vaa’i is exceptional, he’s calling the Chiefs lineout and Guzzler (Brodie Retallick) has set him up," Ryan noted.  
Retallick, known affectionately as "Guzzler," had been a lynchpin in New Zealand rugby for years and has clearly influenced Vaa'i, who now stands as a pivotal figure in the Chiefs' lineup, demonstrating both leadership and tactical acumen. 

Ryan observed a broader trend of younger players stepping into leadership roles and excelling in their positions.  
"What I’ve seen is a transition of players that were just there or thereabouts who are now right at the forefront of conversations," he said.  
Ryan said this transition was crucial as the All Blacks moved forward without some of their longtime stalwarts.  
"Those men (Coles and Retallick) are not going to be there this year, so they have set them up to succeed. It is what we call passing the baton, and they’ve taken it." 
The concept of "passing the baton" resonated deeply within the All Blacks' culture, emphasising the responsibility of senior players to prepare the next generation, Ryan said.  
"So, I’ve been really impressed with those couple of examples, and there’s plenty more around the traps too," Ryan said. "You are seeing some good players step up who have been mentored by the more experienced guys." 
Catch the All Blacks squad naming for the Steinlager Ultra Low Carb Series LIVE on NZR+ and The Breakdown on Sky Sport NZ from 5.30pm NZT on Monday 24 June. 


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