Mark Loane (55)
Tupou's head knock has suddenly pointed the spotlight on our Prop stocks. As much as THP might be our present issue, the LHP spot could be the bigger problem leading into RWC23. A couple of months ago, it all looked roses. But with Sio's loss of form, and Angus Bell being shown to be a bit of a weakness at scrum time, and now questions being asked by the NH THPs of Slipper's effectiveness, the roses are starting to wilt.
For next week if Tupou doesn't make it back from the HIA, the best we might put out would be Slipper and Bell on the LH side, and AAA/Robertson on the TH side. My concern with Bell is that he plays like another No 8 in the open but has a lot of trouble holding up his side of the scrum. AAA seems to have some disciplinary issues atm but I do think his YC was a bit harsh. But he seems to be attracting cards lately.
At LHP, if Slipper/Sio don't regain form then we will need some new blood to come to the fore in 2022. I reckon someone like HJH might be at the top of the list of possibilities but he might be needed at TH. The pity right now is that he's not in the touring squad.
I fear even if Slipper/Sio do get some form there reputations at scrums will never be great going forward. This may cost us on perception alone given how refs are these days.