Rugby: Time for All Blacks to ditch dual-playmaker system, declares Israel Dagg

The All Blacks must ditch their controversial dual-playmaker system, insists former test fullback Israel Dagg.

Leading into the 2019 Rugby World Cup, former NZ coach Steve Hansen experimented with the strategy, playing Beauden Barrett out of position at fullback, rather than first-five, with Richie Mo'unga in the No.10 jersey.

But for all of the gains this approach brought, playing Barrett at the back also has its drawbacks.

While adding fluidity in attack - and especially on the counterattack - the dual-playmaker system has also brought confusion, with no designated 'driver' conducting the All Blacks attack in the way a traditional first-five would.

What's more, with the emergence of genuine fullback options like Crusaders youngster Will Jordan, as well as the established duo of Damian McKenzie and Jordie Barrett, All Blacks selectors will have another headache this year in determining their best XV.

Current All Blacks boss Ian Foster carried the strategy into 2020, but the All Blacks struggled in a COVID-affected international season that included a historic maiden loss to Argentina.

Speaking on Sky Sports' Breakdown, Rugby World Cup winner Dagg has called for Foster to drop the ploy altogether.

"I think we've gone around in circles," Dagg says. "If you look at both times World Cups have been successful, they've had out-and-out fullbacks, they've had out-and-out wingers playing in those positions.

"They're trying to say they need a playmaker. You can't tell me D-Mac [Damian McKenzie],  or Jordie Barrett or Will Jordan's not a playmaker.

"Those boys are playmakers. If you get the ball in their hands, something's going to happen.

"We've got to get rid of that dual playmaker. They've said it and they've got to make it look like they're going to do it."

Former All Blacks winger Jeff Wilson concurs, suggesting Jordan could have first rights on the No.15 jersey, as the 2023 World Cup in France draws nearer.

"It seems as though we have been in that mindset of the dual playmaker, moving Beauden Barrett to the back," says Breakdown host Wilson.

"I look at Will Jordan and we [need to] give him the responsibility. We are running out of time."

Another drawback of the dual playmaker system has seen the retracted use of specialist wingers.

Beauden Barrett's move to fullback meant Ben Smith - arguably the world's best No.15 - played out of position as a makeshift 'wide fullback'.

Jordie Barrett - the form fullback of 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa - was another victim of the system, preferred as Foster's go-to man on the right wing as an auxiliary 'wide playmaker'.

One of the best wingers in his day, Sir John Kirwan wonders whether it's time to back specialists in their best positions, rather than tinker with the set-up in its current state.

"The first decision we need to make is whether we're going to play guys out of position or go back to specialists," he adds.

"Who do we put on the wings? Do you want specialists or do you want to play guys out of position, because you think they're better than the current specialists?"

It's yet to be seen what system the All Blacks will use in 2021, starting with two tests against Fiji in July.