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Graham Henry’s selection headache

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    Graham Henry’s selection headache

    <DIV>With the Super 14 winding down from yet another action-packed journey fueled with explosive tries and bone-crunching tackles along with the usual rollercoaster ride of emotions, it's interesting to see which players benefited the most from this box-office production.

    There's was no denying that 2007 would bring out the best (and on some occasions the worst!) in the players with the Rugby World Cup just months away from kick-off.

    The Super 14 is a time when New Zealand, Australia and South Africa's national coaches have time to view their players performances and put a tick or a cross next to their name on the possible and probable list.

    But selection is a cruel weapon that can be used to either kill off a player's chances or protect them from being dropped.

    How unfortunate it must be for a player to put in a 110 per cent effort game after game, knowing all too well that his efforts are being overlooked because the top brass have already made their 'list'.

    It's almost like reliving Christmas as a toddler, not knowing if Santa Clause was going to find out if you were naughty or nice - one wonders if Graham Henry has checked his list twice!

    The 'rested' All Blacks are a prime example of an uncapped player facing a tough road to make selection for the upcoming warm-up Tests before the World Cup, Tri-Nations and the Rugby World Cup itself.

    But it's not fair pointing a finger at Graham Henry's 'reconditioning programme' on his star players. If Australia's John Connolly or South Africa's Jake White could do the same - they would. </DIV>
    <DIV>If anything, Henry just made it public who he plans to have in his squad, while Connolly and White would have had the same number of players or more in their head - even before the Super 14 kicked off!

    However, there's always an outside chance of going against the odds and making the cut - we have a look at who has been causing the New Zealand national selectors some sleepless nights and who have a chance of getting an early Christmas present...

    The defending Tri-Nations champs take on France in two warm-up Tests as well as Canada before kicking off their Tri-Nations campaign.

    Twenty-two All Blacks were rested and came back midway through the Super 14 bigger, stronger and faster than ever... but who has been keeping these Kiwi giants on their toes?


    Probably the toughest position to crack if your name isn't Carl Hayman, Tony Woodcock or Greg Somerville. These three have been in outstanding form for a while now and will take a big effort for a player challenging for these spots to push these blokes out of their position.

    Challengers: John Afoa has shown he's certainly no push-over for the Blues in nearly every game he's played for them so far in the competition. He's no stranger to the Black jersey either and will be unlucky not to get another call-up. Another player who has another chance of causing a serious tighthead amongst the propping ranks is the Hurricanes' Neemia Tialata. Tialata played in New Zealand's last game of their European tour against Wales and will be hoping to have done enough to catch another plane to France. Whilst Clarke Dermody of the Highlanders is another one of the front row forwards that is leaving his mark on the tournament in a big way. A shame that he will be departing for greener pastures with Guinness Premiership club London Irish later this year. New Zealand's loss, the Exiles gain!

    Worthy mentions: Campbell Johnston and Wyatt Crocket (both Crusaders)


    Kevin Mealamu and Anton Oliver have been battling it out for the number two jersey for a while now. It's fair to say that Mealamu has won the selector's votes more so than Oliver, but who has been keeping these two on their toes?

    Challengers: Cory Flynn has put in one big performance after another for the Crusader
    Seas suas agus troid!


    Very interesting article but shoddily written. Kaino played for the All Blacks against Ireland and he says that both Corey Smith and Rodney So'oialo are the captain of the Hurricanes [img]smileys/c&#111;nfused.gif[/img]

    Ridiculous strength in depth there (considering Jack, Mauger, Mealamu, Rokocoko not included in either 22 above!), though there was a decent NZ herald article a while back anticipating that only players that have played for the All Blacks by this stage will make the world cup squad i.e. no newbies (bolters) fromhere on in. Filipo might have the best chance perhaps. Lauaki and Tuiali'i must be putting a lot of pressure on So'oialo. Tuiali'i in particular seems to have all the requirements for the position.



      Yea, they do have rediculous strength...very interesting to see who the 2nd lock they play is(assuming Jack is playing)...Id go for Troy Flavell myself...brings smth differant to the table in my view in an area th eAB's didnt impress me too much in V the Lions or us last summer...

      Not too sure about their number 8 either....
      Seas suas agus troid!


        Ross Filipo for me. Fantastic open field runnerand great hands for a big guy.
        My computer thinks I'm gay
        What's the difference anyway
        When all the people do all day
        Is stare into a phone


          lauaki for the chiefs has been phenomenal uin thier last few games. terrifyng the depth they have



            For all the strength in depth, they're still a bit shakey at 13. Toeava looks like the man at the moment, but there's nobody outstanding.


              Well Toeava has been outstanding in the S14, he seemsa nightmareto put down - but yeah I guess in a NZ shirt he didn't really stand out with his chances last season (think he was out of position though?). They also have Muliaina, Conrad Smith, Nonuandeven Rico Gearcould probably do a job there. Chiefs' Richard Kahui would have been in with a shout but he's out for six months now. BOD raised a lot of questions regarding Nonu last summer and Laulala had an absolute stinker in the second Irish test. Smith or Toeava for me.



                All Blacks are naming their 30 man squad on Friday - by the far the most interesting squad announcement of the summer. Here's my attempt:

                Props: Hayman, Woodcock, Tialata, Afoa

                Hookers: Mealamu, Oliver, Hore (possibly Flynn instead)

                Locks: Jack, Williams, Flavell, Filipo

                Back Row: McCaw, So'oialo, Collins, Tuiali'i, Lauaki, Masoe

                Half-backs: Kelleher, Ellis, Weepu, Carter, McAllister

                Centres: Mauger, Toeava, Smith

                Back 3: Sivivatu, Rokocoko, Muliaina, Gear, McDonald

                Also read that they intend to play their strongest team against France and Canada [img]smileys/c&#111;nfused.gif[/img]