Tuesday, September 16, 2008

All Blacks: Understudy for McCaw required

4:00AM Monday Sep 15, 2008
Wynne Gray

Choosing an understudy flanker for inspirational captain Richie McCaw will be a special selection project for the All Black panel before the end-of-year tour.

They have used Rodney So'oialo, Adam Thomson and Daniel Braid this season at openside when the skipper was injured or needed a rest. But assistant coach Steve Hansen admitted there was still a huge void between the captain's talents and any replacement.

"He is in a class of his own and that is what we have to try and close, that gap between him and whomever is next," the forwards coach said.

There were a number of candidates and those would be evaluated in the next month before the touring squad of about 35 was announced for the extra test against the Wallabies in Hong Kong, the Grand Slam trip and midweek game against Munster.

All Black selectors in the past had been confronted with similar issues such as finding someone to succeed five-eighths Grant Fox when he left the game but Andrew Mehrtens, Carlos Spencer then Daniel Carter had made that leap. Stephen Donald, said Hansen, was now showing his ability after a vigorous last half in Brisbane against the Wallabies.

"We have to sit down and really nut out what we want to achieve on this tour other than just winning the tests," Hansen added. "There are some other things that need to be done. We will need to grow some positional people. We have got start finding another seven, those sorts of things."

When the selectors get their feet back under the desk their eyes on the tapes and computer print-outs they will reassess the squad they have used this season and scout the provincial talent for the tour which starts against the Wallabies on November 1.

Meanwhile in the afterglow of their come from behind 28-24 in Brisbane, Hansen said the entire group had been satisfied to have coped with the overseas exodus of many experienced players, twin defeats towards the start of the Tri-Nations before bouncing back to win three straight and claim the titles again.

"To come out and do what we have done ... " he mused yesterday."Three games ago we were at the bottom of the table or close to it and for a young side to come back and show the mettle they did. To win 19-0 in South Africa was pretty special and to come here and be under the pump then come back and win was pretty good. It shows a lot of mental fortitude and the big thing it shows is they believe in themselves and you can't do that as a rugby team unless you trust your teammates."

They had been a bit flat in the first half despite playing an interim test against Samoa. They needed to play more to be razor sharp and that was one of the things the All Black selectors learned at the last World Cup. The game against Samoa was beneficial but nothing like the crunch and demands of Tri-Nations tests.

Once the All Blacks started to control the collisions more and numbered up better they began to make inroads as their supporters in the 52,328 crowd in Brisbane also lifted. Their defence held a series of Wallaby attacks while their rivals leaked several tries they conceded were "soft".

Those to bloodied prop Tony Woodcock and replacement halfback Piri Weepu in a brisk second spell patch gave the All Blacks the lead again with the final quarter to run. That turnaround galvanised the visitors while the home side went through a flat patch and when Daniel Carter bumped off Cross and beat the cover, there was a more comfortable look about the All Blacks.

They had to endure some late heat when Cross scored himself and a subsequent long passage of Wallaby phase play before they ran out of numbers, the All Blacks piled in forced the turnover and cleared for the victory.

The blogs updates :
the holiday blog (http://richiemccaw-bis.blogspot.com) will remain open for at least another week (and even more I think).

thank you Chill for the link, Izzy for all the news & FSS for all your work!!!
Bisous everyone,
Wanna play, just check that link and send us your answer!!!

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