Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First All Black RWC team named

Graham Henry has picked a strong forward pack for Friday night's clash with Tonga. And there are some interesting picks in the backline; here's the full team (test caps in brackets):

1. Tony Woodcock (76)
2. Andrew Hore (55)
3. Owen Franks (24)
4. Brad Thorn (52)
5. Ali Williams (66)
6. Jerome Kaino (41)
7. Richie McCaw - captain (98)
8. Victor Vito (8)
9. Jimmy Cowan (47)
10. Daniel Carter (83)
11. Isaia Toeava (32)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (7)
13. Ma'a Nonu (60)
14. Richard Kahui (12)
15. Israel Dagg (7)


16. Corey Flynn (14)
17. Ben Franks (11)
18. Anthony Boric (20)
19. Sam Whitelock (18)
20. Piri Weepu (49)
21. Colin Slade (5)
22. Cory Jane (26)

The selections of Williams at 2nd five-eighth and Kahui on the right wing are interesting, but we have a theory. We reckon that the All Blacks are expecting a very physical contest with the Tongans, and that they have picked possibly the biggest All Black backline ever to send a message to the Tongans that they will not be intimidated.

Other than that, we don't have too many complaints. We're certainly not subscribing to the prophet of doom mentality that we've heard on talkback radio this morning whilst we were waiting for our server to come back up after maintenance (we hate that when we're half-way through a post!); this is a team that can match the undoubted physicality that the Tongan side will bring to the World Cup opener.

Let's not forget that rugby matches are won and lost up front, and the hard-bitten veterans in the All Black pack should be able to subdue the Tongan forwards. Tonga might find it hard to sustain their enthusiasm for 80 minutes, and the game might blow out in the latter stages.

Anyway, all that is ahead of us, and we'll fully preview the match on Friday; bring it on!


smttc said...

Why isn't Kahui playing centre?

When asked why Nonu was playing centre, apparently Henry said something like "He's played there a few times before." That is not an answer. Why oh why in RWCs do we refuse to play specialist centres in position. 1999 - Cullen. 2003 - MacDonald. 2007 - Mils. And now this. I despair of Henry & Co.

BTW, I heard a theory that the reasoning Dagg is in at fullback is so McCaw makes to 100 test caps ahead of Mils. Pretty sinister eh?

pdm said...

Have a look at The Man In The Stand over at Yahooxtra:

He really gives Henry a, justified in my opinion, serve.

Rotation, rotation, rotation.

If the AB's win the RWC it will be despite Henry and co not because of!!!

smttc said...

Don, yes I read that article and I agree with it whole heartedly. 142 comments and running in reply so far.

jabba said...

a couple of weeks ago, we had too many wingers to choose from and now we play 2 utilities there .. and I hope they don't consider Kahui a 1st team winger in the big games

Quintin Hogg said...

Going through the positions;
1. Woodcock. He's comming back from injury and has a niggle now. Probably below his best.
2.Hore. I rate him higher than Mealamu doin gthe hard stuff at the begining of the game.
3.Franks. Large man. will deal with the Tongans in his own way.
4.Thorne. A colossus. No surprise there as 1st choice.
5.Williams. Overrated then and now.
6.Kaino. see 4 above.
7.McCaw. see 4 above
8.Vito. Last man standing. Still a competent opperator
9.Cowan. Some hate him but he is a great starting halfback. If anyting Weepu played himself out of the role against the Aussies.
10.Carter. see 4 above.
11.see comments on 5 above.
12.Overrated. Will attract Tongan headhighs like moths to a flame.
13.Nonu. First choice but out of position. Still will have the experience to deal with the position.
14.Kahui. Guilford is probably a little small to deal with the Tongans but using Kahui?
15.Dagg. Up and commer. Sorry Mills he is the next star in NZ rugby.

16.Flynn. Hope he doesn't have his
arm broken, again.
17.Franks. Solid. May come on for Woodcock.
18.Boric. Will be cold after injury.
19.Whitelock. As noted the cupboard is bare.
20.Weepu. Good interchange. his fresh legs generally spark things as the hard work has been done.
21.Slade.Paint a target on his forehead when he comes on as the Tongans will zero in on him. If he survives his 10-15 minutes then he will survive anything.
22.Jane. Should be starting.

pdm said...

QH - good analysis. except Weepu and fresh legs is an oxymoron surely - whenever before has an AB halfback walked to rucks and mauls as Weepu did against Australia.

Woodcock and Boric are both being played back to fitness - remember Keith Robinson in 2007.

Vito - last man standing - because no no8 was developed by Henry & co.
I doubt his competency.

Finally - when will Henry and co play Guilford and Dagg in the same team?

Quintin Hogg said...

I maintian is better as a game breaker when he comes on at 60-65 minutes.
A back three of Guilford, Dagg and Jane? Bliss oh bliss. All are pretty good defenders and attackers par excellence.
But Ted bless his socks won't do that.

smttc said...

I agree with Lord Hailsham of St Marylebone. Cowan and Carter have partnered each other approx 28 times and have a better understanding even if Cowan is a bit slow in getting rid of the ball sometimes. Weepu is better as an impact player off the bench.

Inventory2 said...

I don't have too many concerns with Nonu at centre. He has played there many times in the past, and knows the role. Conrad Smith's running of the defensive line will be missed, but less so against Tonga than it might be against one of the more high-profile nations. Williams didn't do a lot on attack at Port Elizabeth but was solid defensively. For this particular match, I think that the selections are perfectly reasonable.

Quintin Hogg said...

Just been for a stroll around Eden Park.
It looks really good with the lights on, inside and out. Also all the trees on Reimers Ave have been lit as well as the shops along Dominion Road.
Let's hope the Rugby is as good as the setting!
Let the games begin.