Friday, February 08, 2008

Very very good news...

McCaw to keep All Blacks captaincy

The Press
Friday, 08 February 2008

Richie McCaw will be retained as All Blacks skipper.

The 27-year-old will be just the second All Blacks captain to keep his job following a World Cup.

Sean Fitzpatrick was retained by John Hart after he took over from coach Laurie Mains in 1996, but all other All Black skippers have either retired, or been dropped or demoted.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry said McCaw had the backing of himself and fellow coaches Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith.

"We have been delighted with the way he has always captained the side," Henry said.

David Kirk, the only man to lead the All Blacks to World Cup glory, retired from international rugby at the end of 1987.

Gary Whetton was dropped after 1991, Taine Randell was kept in the squad but replaced by Todd Blackadder following the 1999 disappointment and Reuben Thorne was axed by Henry when he took over from John Mitchell in 2004.

While McCaw's job is safe, Henry said the selectors will be open-minded about who they will select for their tests against Ireland and England and the Tri Nations.

"We will be starting with a clean sheet of paper. It's a really good opportunity for these players; that's the message we will be giving them and that's the way it should be."

Following last year's exodus of players to northern hemisphere clubs, Henry's major tasks will be to find replacements for tighthead prop Carl Hayman, lock Chris Jack, halfback Byron Kelleher and second five-eighths Aaron Mauger and Luke McAlister.

Keith Robinson's retirement has created another hole at lock, but hooker Anton Oliver can be replaced by incumbents Keven Mealamu and Andrew Hore and the Crusaders' Corey Flynn.

The All Blacks coaches will be moving around the Super 14 teams over the coming months to discuss national selection with players.

Henry said he had a policy of not watching any pre-season matches but is not concerned about not having any hands-on coaching under the new Experimental Law Variations before the tests.

"We will have watched 13 rounds of Super 14 and can see how the teams from three different countries handle it."

It may be that the All Blacks coaches will not have to worry about operating under the new laws anyway.

The Ireland and England tests will be played under the old rules. No decision has been made on the Tri Nations matches, but Henry said his "impression" was the ELVs would not be used.

Meanwhile, Brian Lochore, who stepped down as a selector following the World Cup, will not be replaced.

"We don't think we can replace him ... We don't think there's another one of him around," Henry said. Henry, Hansen and Smith will continue as selectors.
Black&white pic by GettyImages (from last night's match vs. Tahs in Sydney)

1 comment:

sesenta y cuatro said...

Hey, you must have really enjoyed today's Crusaders game.