Opinion: Lienert-Brown a true All Black bolter
Thursday 20 Oct 2016 6:51 a.m.
It's hard to remember the last time an All Blacks bolter made as big an impact as Anton Lienert- Brown has this season.
In the space of a month, he's gone from injury replacement to form centre.
Malakai Fekitoa was given a break in Argentina and Lienert-Brown has taken his chance so well he's once again starting against Australia on Saturday at Eden Park.
After five Tests Lienert Brown seems to have a bit of a hold, if not a decent grip on the no 13 jersey. Fekitoa is only on the bench this weekend.
The 21-year-old is one of those special players who has risen to the big occasion. There's been no real learning curve, just five impressive performances.
There had been signs he had long-term potential. He cracked the Chiefs as a teenager fresh out of Christchurch Boys' High in 2014. He put in some quality performances for the franchise this year, especially in the Chiefs' win over Wales. However, I'm not sure many would have picked he'd become a quality Test player this quickly.
Chiefs midfield teammates Charlie Ngatai and Seta Tamanivalu were both included in the All Blacks squad at the start of the season. Thinking back, Lienert-Brown was in a major battle to even get a start at his franchise, and now it's hard to imagine anyone else donning the All Blacks' no 13 jersey.
Lienert-Brown has size and pace. He also has the ability to create for others that only Sonny Bill Williams has amongst Kiwi-based midfielders. If you're a winger or fullback, you'll want to stay alert when he has the ball in hand - it could be coming your way. He seems pretty good on defence too.
Off the field his friendly demeanour makes him a very likeable bloke, while the All Blacks' coaches seem impressed by his desire to soak up everything going on around him.
Suddenly, Lienert-Brown's gone from a possible future All Black to a Test player with the rugby world at his feet.