Todd ready to emerge from the shadows
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Loose forward Matt Todd will be hoping to make a big impression when he runs out for the All Blacks against the Springboks at Kings Park this weekend.
The match will be the 28-year-old's first start in an All Black jersey and it will only be his fifth appearance for the All Blacks after making his debut three years ago.
Todd has been playing in the shadow of All Black great Richie McCaw for a number of years and when the latter retired after last year's World Cup, you would have thought Todd would get more opportunities on the international stage.
However, Sam Cane and Ardie Savea has been All Black coach Steve Hansen's preferred choices in the openside role this season, which limited Todd's chances.
"The All Blacks are a hard team to make so I guess you work away and hopefully you will get the chance," Todd told reporters in Durban. "It is what I have tried to do and I am just excited that the opportunity has just arrived now."
Todd could not have asked for a bigger stage to make his first start for the All Blacks - against the old foes in their own backyard.
"It is obviously massive. It does not get any bigger than playing the Springboks in South Africa, so to get the opportunity is very exciting.
"It has been a really good week and I cannot wait for Saturday," he added.
All Black lock Samuel Whitelock has known Todd for a number of years having played together at the Crusaders and he believes the flank will make the most of this rare opportunity on Saturday.
"I have known him for a while now, from Under-19 trials a few years ago now and Todd has worked really hard the whole time.
"Todd is one of the hardest working guys out there - he has been playing really well for a long time and to see him get out there and have this opportunity no doubt he will grab it with both hands," said Whitelock.
Meanwhile, Hansen has also been impressed with Todd's work rate over the years and he was more than happy to reward the Crusaders flank.
"It is always pleasing to see a player get rewarded for working hard and he has done that," said Hansen.
"He is serving a purpose for the team as well. Ardie [Savea] is getting a breather and he is a more than capable replacement. He [Todd] has earned the right to put it [All Black jersey] on and I am sure he will play well."
By Warren Fortune