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Player Ratings: New Zealand

OPINION: Despite plenty of industry and effort, the All Blacks have fallen to a gut-wrenching 11-12 defeat at the hands of the Springboks in the 2023 World Cup final.


The big moment came just before the half-hour mark, when captain Sam Cane was sin-binned for a high tackle on Jesse Kriel. An off-field red card was soon issued for Cane, and the All Blacks had to front with just 14 men for the remainder of the match.

How did the All Blacks rate in defeat?

1. Ethan de Groot – 7/10
Had no issues contending with Frans Malherbe at the scrum and got stuck into plenty of rucks. Busy on the carry early in the game. Penalised once for obstructing the breakdown. A bit lackadaisical as a breakdown clearer when the All Blacks were setting up for a clearance inside their 22, with South Africa forcing a penalty. Off in 66th minute.

2. Codie Taylor – 7
Had a few issues with his lineout deliveries in the middle of the the first half but was otherwise on the money. Made one big hit on Damian Willemse, sending the South African fullback sliding into touch. Made some good metres in the wide channels. The All Blacks’ top tackler. Off in 66th minute.

3. Tyrel Lomax – 7
Off in 66th minute. Had to cover some big metres to fill a few gaps on defence. Held up his side of the scrum well and kept himself busy around the park.

4. Brodie Retallick – 9
Put in an absolutely monumental shift in his final game for New Zealand. A pillar of reliability in the lineouts, making plenty of takes for the All Blacks and grabbing three steals off Springboks ball. Off in 71st minute.


5. Scott Barrett – 7
Carried hard, defended resolutely and was the All Blacks’ busiest player at the lineout. Managed one steal off South African ball.

6. Shannon Frizell – 5
Sin-binned early for poor technique at the ruck. Made a strong run down the left-hand flank upon his return to the fray. Didn’t reach the highs of some of his recent performances. Off in 55th minute.

7. Sam Cane – 2
Combined well with Ardie Savea for one big hit on defence. Red-carded for a high tackle when the Springboks were under pressure inside their 22 towards the end of the first half. A gut-wrenching finish to the World Cup cycle for the All Blacks captain.

8. Ardie Savea – 8
A big game from the stand-in captain – but not quite big enough. Made a strong carry to get the All Blacks back on the offensive from inside their 22 early in the match. Needed to show a bit more urgency when Jordie Barrett popped the ball over the top of the Springboks line, letting the ball bounce and letting the opportunity go amiss. Was unluckily penalised moments later for a what Wayne Barnes ruled an illegal steal attempt. Charged down one Handre Pollard drop goal attempt.


9. Aaron Smith – 7
Mixed up the flow of the game well for the All Blacks. Made a couple of crucial tackles – often against bigger men. Wasn’t the send-off he would have been hoping for, but he certainly didn’t let his teammates down. Off in 66th minute.

10. Richie Mo’unga – 7
Absolutely clobbered by Eben Etzebeth in the first minutes of the match. Had to contend with countless high balls throughout the opening exchanges and generally dealt with them well. Dropped the ball when the All Blacks were preparing to mount an attack. Looked to have set up an incredible try with a brilliant jinking run, only for the play to be called back for a knock-on. Off in 75th minute.

11. Mark Tele’a – 8
As always, looked dangerous whenever he had his hands on the ball. Didn’t get much room to move in the first half but still made some nice half-breaks. Stole the ball from Kurt Lee-Arendse’s grasp off a high kick. Skipped around some defenders out wide and freed up the ball for Beauden Barrett to grab a try. Finished with 13 carries – the most of any player on the pitch.

12. Jordie Barrett – 7
Carted up the ball when necessary, behind only Tele’a and Savea on the carry stats – and made some important takes under the high ball. Caught in two minds in the midfield on one occasion, knocking the ball on when the tackle eventually (and inevitably) came. As in the quarter-final, managed to hold up the ball to prevent what looked like a certain try. Couldn’t land a long-distance penalty with seven left to play which would have given his side the lead then threw a forward pass the next time he got his hands on the ball.

13. Rieko Ioane – 6
Kept fairly quiet by the Springboks defence but slowly grew in prominence as the game wore on. Didn’t quite have the gas to get around Cheslin Kolbe for what would have been the opening try of the match – but did a pretty good job to get close. Generally coped well with the Springboks’ man advantage when Jordie Barrett had to join the scrums.

14. Will Jordan – 3
Looked nervous at times and was indecisive with the ball. Had a couple of handling yips. Stripped by Kwagga Smith. Was asked to do a decent amount of defending out on the wing. Off in 71st minute.

15. Beauden Barrett – 6
Did some excellent work on defence in the first 40, mopping up some loose ball in the red zone. Kicked one ball dead from inside NZ’s half. Fluffed the first two high balls in the second spell and was too casual after a Springboks kick through, presenting the Springboks with two golden opportunities on attack. Scored New Zealand’s first try of the match – and the first South Africa have ever conceded in a World Cup final after picking up the ball of his boot laces out wide.


16. Samisoni Taukei’aho – 6
On in 66th minute. Needed to be on the park about 10 minutes earlier. Didn’t see too much ball in his time on the field but hit his targets at the lineout.

17. Tamaiti Williams – 7
On in 66th minute. Strong at the set-piece, justifying his selection in the squad for the final, and made a couple of good carries.

18. Nepo Laulala – 6
On in 66th minute. Did what he was asked at the scrum but it was never especially prosperous for the All Blacks when the ball found its way into his hands.

19. Sam Whitelock – 5
On in 55th minute. Hit plenty of breakdowns. Always a warrior on defence, and will go down as a legend in New Zealand – but it wasn’t a defender the All Blacks needed in the final 20.

20. Dalton Papali’i – N/A
On in 71st minute. Made one nice break.

21. Finlay Christie – 7
On in 66th minute. A slow first couple of minutes but looked good in the final 10, getting to the ball quickly and sending it on to his teammates without too much hesitation.

22. Damian McKenzie – N/A
On in 75th minute. Added some impressive spark in his five minutes on the field – perhaps should have entered the game earlier.

23. Anton Lienert-Brown – N/A
On in 71st minute. Waited too late to make a pass off an All Blacks attack, with Kolbe batting the ball out of the air. The All Blacks were given a penalty but a linebreak was beckoning. Knocked the ball on after a Savea fumble to end NZ’s chances.

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