Rugby: Hurricanes' Plumtree tips Toomaga-Allen for All Blacks

  • 15/05/2018

Hurricanes assistant coach John Plumtree is backing tight head prop Jeff Toomaga-Allen for All Blacks selection for the mid-year tests against France.

Steve Hansen and his selectors will announce their 33-man squad or the series on Sunday (NZT).

Toomaga-Allen hasn't played for the All Blacks since 2013, after winning his one and only cap against Japan.

He faces stiff competition from Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tu'ungafasi to see who plays back-up to veteran Owen Franks.

Plumtree believes Toomaga-Allen deserves another look for higher honours, but stressed his limitation as a bench prop.

"No, he can't play both sides, he's an out-and-out tight-head," he said.

"He's another that's got his work-ons and he's steadily going about that. His attack game was good in the weekend, he's defensively good as well, so he's there or thereabouts.

"He must be line for selection."

Toomaga-Allen is one of several Hurricanes players who've put their hand up for All Blacks selection, with the side currently riding a nine-match winning streak.

Hooker Ricky Riccitelli has also been impressive, keeping the highly thought of Asafo Aumua out of the run-on side and creating a welcome selection headache for the Hurricanes coaching staff.

"Ricky was good in the weekend," Plumtree said. "Ricky's work rate around the park was outstanding and this is what he really prides himself on.

"His throw in the lineout was good - 20 lineouts and 20 wins - and he's really stepping up at the right time, so good for him."

After falling behind in the pecking order last year, loose forward Ardie Savea is another that seems to be back to his best.

Plumtree is excited by the progress he's made since coming back from injury.

"I think the last two weeks, Ardie's been particularly really good. He started off not too bad, but then he hurt his ribs in the first game back.

"He was a little bit slow, but the last two games, he's been excellent.

"He's obviously got that attacking game that probably no other seven can play like in the world and his ability at the breakdown is improving all the time.

"He's become more of a menace and a threat and his 'd' work's always been good."


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