Ollie Ritchie: Winners, losers from All Blacks' Rugby Championship triumph

OPINION: One blip against the Springboks on the Gold Coast shouldn't detract from an otherwise dominant Rugby Championship from the All Blacks.

Faced with the daunting challenge of more than three months on the road, Ian Foster's men comfortably dispatched the Wallabies and Argentina, before playing out two enthralling tests against South Africa to remind everyone why that rivalry remains the best in world rugby.

As the All Blacks lie low for a couple of weeks, before embarking on their northern tour, some will feel pretty comfortable in the Queensland sun, while others may have some more time for reflection.


Jordie Barrett: Probably my All Black of the series, taking his chance in the 15 jersey and making it his own. 

Comfortably Ian Foster's first-choice fullback, with a real chance to cement that spot on the end-of-year tour.

Rieko Ioane: Has continued to shine in 2021, moving between the midfield and wing, but making every post a winner. 

Is simply too valuable not to have in the starting side at the moment.

Ethan Blackadder: Looks right at home at test level, has taken his chances in the starting side, and shown Foster and co he can slot in anywhere across the loose forward trio. 

An argument can be made that he's surpassed Akira Ioane as first-choice blindside.

Ardie Savea & Brodie Retallick: Shouldn’t come as any surprise, but I couldn't not mention these two. 

Have been absolute Trojans throughout the Rugby Championship and their leadership has been invaluable. 

Did No Harm

Beauden Barrett: Took his chances at No.10 in Richie Mo'unga's absence and has continued to show his class, leading the backline around with real authority. 

Has given Foster food for thought approaching the northern tour. 

Brad Weber: Second-best halfback behind Aaron Smith now and Foster his faith by starting him in the second test against the Springboks. 

His pass is getting quicker and Barrett is able to flourish outside him with that much more time on the ball. Really excited to see him match up with Antoine Dupont, when the All Blacks play France

Akira Ioane: Was incredible against the Wallabies and really strong against the Pumas, but was just found out a little against the Springboks. 

Couldn't get into the game as much. Needs to impose himself more physically in those encounters, but another solid display in the black jersey.

David Havili: Looks more and more settled in this environment, despite a quieter couple of tests against the Springboks.

Should be thrilled with the strides made, since switching to the midfield. Like the look of him and Anton Lienert-Brown together.


George Bridge: Will be remembered for that disastrous test against the Springboks unfortunately. 

Will get a chance to redeem himself on the end-of-year tour and he's too good a player not to take it. He'll be back, but has slipped out of Foster's preferred 23.

TJ Perenara: Didn't take the chance on offer and I think he's now behind Weber in the pecking order. 

Service for Barrett wasn't flash and a wayward pass was responsible for Damian McKenzie getting flattened late in the second half against the Springbok. 

Still has plenty to give and is a proven performer on the international stage. Again, will get more chances on the northern tour.

Jordie Barrett in action against South Africa
Jordie Barrett in action against South Africa. Photo credit: Photosport

Asafo Aumua: Has likely fallen behind Samisoni Taukei'aho in the pecking order. Got his chance to start twice, didn't really take either of them. 

Continues to have trouble at lineout time and that was evident against a brutal Springboks, who prayed on his inaccuracies. Once Dane Coles returns, Aumua will have a real fight on his hands. 

Must take whatever chances he gets on the northern tour, likely starting against the USA in Maryland. 

This will shape as an incredibly interesting end-of-year tour for the All Blacks, with several spots still up for grabs and several players on shaky ground, who must take their chances with both hands.

With first tests under Foster against France, Wales and Ireland, expect the All Blacks to be at full strength for all of those.

When they return to New Zealand for MIQ at the end of November, the two-week may seem longer for some.

Ollie Ritchie is Newshub's rugby editor