Sunday, October 17, 2010

McCaw's back up is grey area in grand plan
Saturday Oct 9, 2010

So John Afoa is heading for Mt Maunganui today to test his lineout throwing for Auckland B.
It is all part of the master plan to use him as backup hooker on the All Blacks' tour to Hong Kong and Europe starting at the end of this month.

As long as he does not hit the opposition halfback with a few misfired deliveries, the signs point to Afoa making the trip as someone who can cover all three front row positions.

There are also murmurings that, at a pinch, and on the flimsy basis that he played halfback at school, Aaron Cruden could cover that role on tour too.
It's up to the selectors - their team, their choice.

It seems they are hell-bent on taking as many World Cup prospects as they can even if that means taking some like Andrew Hore, Sitiveni Sivivatu and Isaia Toeava on reputation and scant match play.

The 30-strong squad is named next weekend when the Three Wise Men have to trim a few quality candidates from their touring party.
My greatest intrigue will be who they identify as Richie McCaw's deputy, who they have fingered as the next-best under the changing laws and shape of the game to understudy the skipper.

Since Messrs Henry, Hansen and Smith took over, the All Black duties in 2004, they have seen McCaw do battle for them in 68 of the 86 tests they've been together.
When McCaw has been injured or needed a spell, Marty Holah, Rodney So'oialo, Chris Masoe, Daniel Braid, Adam Thomson and Tanerau Latimer have been chosen.

Thomson and So'oialo are injured, Braid and Latimer are doing the rounds in the ITM Cup but are not demanding inclusion.
Perhaps the selectors have spotted someone they think will be mighty effective under the laws and could be converted to the role.

Who though? Keven Mealamu was a flanker at school before switching to the front row. Could he be retrained?
Is Luke Braid a newer, bigger, less-battered version of his older brother, would Ben Souness fit the mould, could Sonny B ... no, no, no, stop right there.

Matt Todd has been strong on the blindside for Canterbury and gets to showcase his skills on the openside in tonight's Ranfurly Shield challenge.
Who wears the 7b jersey? Dunno, come on in the selectors.By Wynne Gray

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