Ollie Ritchie: Changes All Blacks need to make after failure against France in World Cup opener

OPINION: The All Blacks will experience quite the change in pace, transitioning from France at Stade de France to their second pool match against Namibia at Toulouse.

With all due respect to Namibia, they won't put up the formidable challenge the French did.

It would be a relatively easy thing to do for coach Ian Foster to make sweeping changes this week, rolling out his fringe players, who aren't likely to feature at the business end of the tournament, to ensure they get some World Cup game-time, while keeping his most important on ice.

Ethan Blackadder in action for the All Blacks.
Ethan Blackadder in action for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Photosport

Given the All Blacks will be coming off the back of two comprehensive defeats in which they've failed to fire many shots, consistency and cohesion is, in many ways, more important at Toulouse.

The bulk of Foster's senior players must get the chance to do that against Namibia and no-one will be hungrier to the right the wrongs than them, so while Foster may resist the urge to make sweeping changes across the board, there are some he should look at.

One of them has just stepped off a plane in Lyon.

Ethan Blackadder should occupy the All Blacks No.6 jersey against Namibia. While that may sound like a big call for a player who's light on rugby this year, after battling several cruel injury blows, and has only just joined the squad, his physicality is just what they need.

Blackadder gives the All Blacks a Jerome Kaino-type player at blindside flanker. His bread and butter is making a menace of himself at the breakdown, shifting bodies, winning turnovers and ensuring dominance at the collision.

Oh, how the All Blacks could've done with some of that against France.

It would be a big call, given Blackadder will only have a couple of trainings with the team and assistant coach Jason Ryan implies, while he's available for selection, they're more likely to allow him time to get up to speed.

There would be no better way to do that than to go straight into the cauldron, allowing Blackadder to get valuable minutes under his belt and priming him, should they opt to use him in the latter stages of the tournament.

Shannon Frizell won't be back on deck until at least their third pool match against Italy at Bordeaux, after their bye week. Tupou Vaa'i didn't give the All Blacks the punch they'd hoped for against France, although he was a late change and has never featured at blindside flanker in international rugby.

Luke Jacobson has been somewhat unlucky on limited game time this year, particularly at Twickenham, where he was the unlucky fallguy for Scott Barrett's red card and was subbed after half an hour.

Dalton Papali'i isn't a natural 'six' and is much more suited to the openside, so I would love to see Blackadder thrown straight into it. He's the sort of player who would thrive under those circumstances.

Papali'i is almost certain to start at openside again this week, because even if there's the slightest question mark over Sam Cane's fitness, he needs to sit out again. There is no point risking further damage to one of your most important players this early in the tournament.

He didn't train with the All Blacks on Monday at Lyon and Ryan hints they'd prefer to give his back a chance to return to 100 percent.

The bench also remain something of a point of contention and the All Blacks will hope for more impact from them this week. Cam Roigard and Damian McKenzie would give them the spark they need.

Dalton Papali'i in action against France.
Dalton Papali'i in action against France. Photo credit: Getty Images

With just two tests under his belt, Roigard has shown the international stage doesn’t bother him.

He offers a great point of difference with his bigger frame, a pin point box kick and electric running game. Roigard can help spark the All Blacks attack late in the game, whether leading or trailing.

Damian McKenzie is much the same and, after a standout Super Rugby season with the Chiefs, he hasn't quite taken his chances with the All Blacks.

That's not to say he can't and against opposition who are likely to tire late in the game, his electric running game can ensure the All Blacks get a vital lift, when Namibia least want them to.

Elsewhere, Fletcher Newell, Jordie Barrett and Caleb Clarke could be possible additions to the starting line-up.

The All Blacks are capable of far better than what they put out against France and several senior players will want to quickly make amends. There are a few who watched from the Stade de France stands who should be given the opportunity to do the same.

Possible All Blacks side to face Namibia

1-Ethan de Groot, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Fletcher Newell, 4-Scott Barrett, 5-Sam Whitelock, 6-Ethan Blackadder, 7-Dalton Papali'i, 8-Ardie Savea (c), 9-Aaron Smith, 10-Richie Mo'unga, 11-Caleb Clarke, 12-Jordie Barrett, 13-Rieko Ioane, 14-Will Jordan, 15-Beauden Barrett

Reserves: 16-Samisoni Taukie'aho, 17-Tamaiti Williams, 18-Nepo Laulala, 19-Brodie Retallick, 20-Luke Jacobson, 21-Cam Roigard, 22-David Havili, 23-Damian McKenzie

Ollie Ritchie is Newshub's rugby reporter at the World Cup. Join Newshub at 7am Saturday for live updates of the All Blacks v Namibia World Cup pool clash