Sunday, April 01, 2007

Monday Morning Tri-Nations musings

August 21, 2006

One. Big news of the past weekend was of course New Zealand winning the Tri-Nations over Australia.

Two. Former All Black great Grant Fox was tickled:

There was a couple of thrilling moments for me sitting in an Eden Park crowd which loved every minute of this absorbing contest.

New Zealand's great rolling maul try just before halftime was stunning.

I might have worn No.10 on my jersey, but every rugby purist in the country was cheering on that remarkable drive.

The only thing I found more stirring was the response of the crowd which lifted the rafters off Eden Park's stands.

The cheering made the hair on my neck stand up.

Three. London Times corrspondent Stephen Jones, aka Lord Haw-Haw, was less enthusiastic:

New Zealand still have selection problems. The back five of their pack are not yet established.

Four. For the record, the back five of the All Black pack are:

  • 4. Chris Jack (27 years old. 53 test match caps.)

  • 5. Jason Eaton (24-y-o. 7 caps.)/Ali Williams (25-y-o. 35 test caps.)

  • 6. Jerry Collins (25-y-o. 33 test caps.)

  • 7. Richie McCaw (Team captain. 25-y-o. 42 test caps.)

  • 8. Rodney So'oialo (26 -y-o. 26 test caps.)

  • Quick math: The average age of that back-five is 25.33 years old. Average international experience: 32.66 test caps. These players are still young; have loads of international experience; a few of them would probably find their names on the World Starting XV; and Haw-Haw says they aren't established and have selection problems.

    Six. Wallaby wing Lote Tuqiri has been handed an 11-week suspension from all rugby following his dangerous tackle on All Black captain Richie McCaw in New Zealand's Tri-Nations clinching 34-27 win over Australia in Auckland on Saturday.

    Seven. Ex-All Black John Drake writes:

    Wallabies need fresh ideas or they're a busted Cup flush

    Australia won't get any better before next year's World Cup. The All Blacks can. That's the big message out of the last few weeks of Bledisloe Cup rugby.

    I believe the likes of George Gregan, Stirling Mortlock and Stephen Larkham will not improve markedly before France next September. [...]

    I wonder if Eden Park witnessed the dying threshings of this Wallaby team.

    Make no mistake, they were playing for their lives on Saturday night.

    They gave it everything, crossing the legal boundaries frequently as they sought to stifle Richie McCaw's effectiveness, and still came up well short.

    Eight. All Black coach Graham Henry is expected to make numerous changes to his Tri-Nations-winning team that will face the winless Springboks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday - with prop Carl Hayman and captain Richie McCaw among those likely to miss out.

    Nine. Via New Zealand Herald:

    Jonah Lomu's return after a three-year absence from the New Zealand first-class scene may have caused one of the biggest cheers in North Harbour's match against Wellington at Albany yesterday.

    But in reality Lomu's 25-minute cameo in the second spell was but one of the many Harbour highlights as the side overran a listless Wellington 31-16.

    Lomu's role was restricted to a couple of attempted runs when he came into the line from the left wing, and one effective tackle. But Harbour had so many other strengths that he wasn't really needed.


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