Menacing All Blacks flanker Matt Todd shines in historic 18 Test winning streak

An unlikely hero has emerged from the shadows for the All Blacks and his name is Matt Todd.

He showcased last night his ability to wreak havoc at the breakdown and cause all sorts of headaches for the opposition, again creating another selection conundrum for the All Blacks' coaching staff.

Last night in the All Blacks' 37-10 win in Auckland over the Wallabies, the five Test international loose forward really proved his worth.

Todd, 28, was all over the park creating turnovers from the get go and laying on some brutal defensive tackles, which he is not known for late in the game.

The veteran Crusader has been around the All Blacks environment since 2011 training at the time with the New Zealand World Cup squad, but he didn't officially make his debut until 2013 against France.

Matt Todd of New Zealand makes a run at Israel Folau and Nick Frisby of Australia. New Zealand All Blacks v Australian Wallabies, Bledisloe Cup, rugby union test match, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. 22 October 2016. © Copyright Image:
All Blacks flanker Matt Todd of New Zealand makes a run at Israel Folau and Nick Frisby of Australia. Source: Photosport

A massive game changer at Super Rugby level for the Crusaders, Todd has always had trouble in the past in finding his feet at the international level for the All Blacks.

Richie McCaw was always the first choice as the starting number 7 for the All Blacks for the last several years, before he retired with Chiefs' loose forward Sam Cane cementing his spot as the reserve flanker.

You could say he is the Marty Holah of the All Blacks in today's era, Holah was another sensational flanker from Waikato who played 36 Tests for New Zealand. He debuted for the All Blacks in 2001 against Samoa but he rarely saw much game time.

After last night's incredible performance at Eden Park, his best game by far in the black jersey, Todd's transition from Super Rugby into the international scene has really been a revelation in waiting.

Steve Hansen and his coaching staff have a favourable headache on their hands, spoilt for choice as to who to start ahead of the Northern hemisphere tour with Cane set to return from injury and also having the option of selecting Ardie Savea.

'Thinking of ways to keep this big machine going' - Steve Hansen looking for ways to keep talent in NZ

New Zealand are as fragile off the field as they are dominant on it.

That's the grim assessment of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who has renewed a call for New Zealand government support if his all-conquering team are to maintain their pre-eminent place in world rugby.

Hansen's concerns about the financial strain on the Kiwi game came in the same week World Rugby vice-chairman Augustin Pichot warned the international scene is in danger of disintegrating if a unified global calendar can't be nailed down within 12 months.

Pichot said rugby's business model doesn't add up for most countries.

He has threatened to walk away rather than "be an accomplice to rugby's ruin".

Despite its success at all levels, New Zealand Rugby is losing money and struggling to retain all of its leading players who are being courted by large offshore clubs.

Hansen says finding a financial solution is imperative.

"The word complacency's been bandied around about us as a team but we're fighting it all the time with our fans and our country," Hansen said.

The All Blacks coach said he is trying to implement ways of keeping top Kiwi talent in NZ. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's not an everlasting thing that we're doing. I'm sure there would be a different attitude if this team wasn't performing."

Former All Black Lima Sopoaga this week said playing for New Zealand was losing its allure and that players will increasingly accept overseas deals, such as he has with English club Wasps.

Hansen hoped New Zealand Rugby's commitment to protecting player welfare can help prevent the current trickle of departures turning into a torrent.

"I don't think there's any more going than there has been and there's a lot of guys over there who think it's a grind," Hansen said.

"But we have to keep thinking of ways to keep this big machine going."

Hansen's previous plea for government support of the country's richest sport organisation was greeted with widespread negativity.

He pointed out central funding could be a means to boost the grass roots game, freeing up more sponsorship money to retain top players.

That, in turn, would protect an All Blacks brand he believes puts Kiwis on the map.

"Rugby in this country is part of who we are and what we are.

"You can go anywhere in the world and people may not know New Zealand but they've heard of the All Blacks."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
All Blacks v France. Rugby Union. Steinlager Series, 2nd test match. Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand. Saturday 16 June 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga /
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. Source: Photosport


Wallabies coach Michael Cheika in no joking mood for Pumas Test

Wallabies assistant Stephen Larkham has had his wings clipped by the boss ahead of what is being likened to a family reunion on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

Australia will face an Argentina side now headed by former Wallabies forwards coach Mario Ledesma at Cbus Super Stadium.

Ledesma helped transform Australia's scrum in the lead up to the last World Cup before leaving for his homeland on the best of terms with coach Michael Cheika.

Joking when asked of Ledesma's influence earlier this week, Larkham cheekily replied that "he struggled as an assistant coach" and "didn't know what he's going to come up with this weekend".

Tongue firmly in cheek, Larkham also suggested his former colleague would be stealing from the Wallabies play book on the Gold Coast.

Cheika wasn't laughing about it on Thursday though, bristling when asked what he thought of Larkham's banter.

"I'm not that into it, you know what I mean," he said.

"I get it, the joke and everything, but there won't be any joking on Saturday."

Cheika will save the jovial interaction for after the game, knowing his side has a chance to pull back more ground after a morale-boosting defeat of South Africa in Brisbane.

Argentina split a home-and-away series against South Africa to start their campaign before a plucky 46-24 loss to the All Blacks last weekend.

"He's (Ledesma) done an excellent job. I'm biased, he's like family to me, but it won't make a difference on Saturday," Cheika said.

The Wallabies are $1.27 favourites to win with some bookies but, after back-to- back Bledisloe Cup floggings to begin the Rugby Championship, Cheika isn't getting ahead of himself.

"We've copped a fair bit of flak recently so after last weekend we get a lot of people telling you 'it's all good, all good'," he said.

"It ain't all good until you're consistent every single day. It's a laugh (the banter), but laughs for me are after the game."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika during the Wallabies Captain's Run at Eden Park ahead of this weekend's Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship match in Auckland. Friday 14 August 2015. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga /
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika Source: Photosport



'I was too short' - Warriors women star Louisa Gago’s journey from netball to league

Warriors lock Louisa Gago's decision to turn her back on netball in high school has proven to be the right call, finding her niche in the women’s NRL competition.

The 24-year-old had the dream of playing netball at higher levels in her teens, but admitted her stature proved to be a problem.

"I was playing netball in fifth form and sixth form, I was trying to make the A team," said Gago.

"But couldn't make it because I was too short, I got sick of playing in the B team and when I was 18 I thought I might as well try league."

Gago scored the what turned out to be the Warriors’ winning try in their first round 10-4 victory over the Sydney Roosters.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Warriors players pose for a photo after victory during the round one of the women's NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
Warriors players pose for a photo after victory during the round one of the women's NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium. Source: Getty

She ran a perfect line off her skipper Laura Mariu to blitz through the Roosters’ defence and cross over the white line last Saturday at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Returning to the same venue to take on the St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday, Gago said her side won’t be taking their opponents lightly.

Despite the Dragons 30-4 first-round thumping by the Brisbane Broncos.

"It will still be a tough game, those Aussie girls are pretty fit," she said.

Playing for the Manurewa Marlins at club level in Auckland, Gago revealed to 1 NEWS that stepping foot on the ANZ Stadium pitch was a huge moment.

"It was a dream to play at ANZ Stadium, I've grown up watching the big NRL teams and the finals played there," she said.

"I got pretty emotional when we had a little walk around the field before we played."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Alice Vailea of the Warriors celebrates victory during the round one of the women's NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)
Alice Vailea of the Warriors celebrates victory during the round one of the women's NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the New Zealand Warriors at ANZ Stadium. Source: Getty

Warriors coach Luisa Avaiki says their opponents St George Illawarra will have a point to prove come Saturday.

"We're expecting that they will come out firing," said Avaiki.

"Every week is a grand final for us, so we have to go in with that attitude.

"Otherwise we can get caught sleeping if we don’t go in with that mindset."

The 24-year-old made the switch when she was high school and was a standout in the Warriors' 10-4 win over the Sydney Roosters. Source: 1 NEWS

Watch: Waikato lock away Ranfurly Shield with sublime offloading display against hapless Hawke's Bay

Waikato have completed their first successful defence of the Ranfurly Shield after a stunning second half performance against Hawke's Bay in Hamilton tonight.

The two Championship sides were locked in a close battle at halftime with Waikato hold a 21-15 lead.

They managed to earn that lead thanks to a yellow card given to Pasqualle Dunn just 12 minutes into the match when the Magpies midfielder made his second dangerous tackle minutes after his first.

That gave Waikato a chance to strike and allowed them to nullify an early try to Brad Weber and build a 14-10 lead before the sides traded blows late in the half.

But it was all one way traffic in the second 40 minute block as Waikato piled in three tries in 11 minutes to lock the Log o' Wood away.

Their final try was a sublime effort from the entire team as three offloads set up reserve Raniera Takarangi to dive over the line and push the lead to 42-15 with nine minutes left.

Hawke's Bay managed a late consolation try but it didn't change the fact they were dominated at the lineout and breakdown throughout the match, leading to the big loss.

The result sees Waikato continue their climb after their horrid start to the season, sitting top of the Championship table with their third-straight win six matches.

Hawke's Bay sit directly under them, although they do have a game in hand having taken three wins in their first five games of 2018.

One thing they don't have though is the Ranfurly Shield which Waikato won't defend again for another two weeks until Southland comes to town.