Monday, June 23, 2008

All Blacks: McCaw up against old schoolmate in England clash

There will be an old boys' reunion at Eden Park on Saturday though not with the usual pleasantries when the All Blacks rugby captain and an English lock reacquaint.

Richie McCaw and Tom Palmer were on the same side in the mid-90s when they played for the Otago Boys' High School First XV.

They have taken contrasting rugby pathways since boarding school days.Palmer, a member of the English championship-winning Wasps club, has been named for his ninth cap in England's remodelled second row and McCaw plays his 61st test.

The 28-year-old Englishman has led a transient life, spending his childhood in Kenya before the family headed to Edinburgh, Scotland.

After completing his A levels, Palmer deferred his place at the University of Leeds and headed to Dunedin to further his rugby education.

At Otago Boys' McCaw played on the openside flank and Palmer in the engine room so not much has changed, apart from their international experience.

While McCaw has been a constant since his debut against Ireland in 2001, Palmer's first England cap the same season was followed by a five-year exile.

With England in transition since last year's World Cup, the 1.98-metre ball winner could be in line for a decent stretch - an outcome that wouldn't surprise McCaw.

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