Tue, 23 Nov 2010 6:46p.m.
By Jim Kayes
The All Blacks selectors are expected to name their best side to play Wales in this weekend’s Grand Slam decider.
The team, to be named Thursday, should include Keven Mealamu, despite the experienced hooker having missed the last two tests with a suspension for head butting.
Sidelines - Read more about Mealamu's eagerness to get back in black
Cardiff’s in a Christmas mood but there will no festive goodwill from Mealamu when he returns to the All Blacks on Sunday.
“Nothing changes as a player i just still have to do my job if it means I have to move players off the ball it means I have to do that. Just subconsciously be careful about what I do,” says Mealamu.
And though suffered the suspension for a head butt on England skipper Lewis Moody, Mealamu’s not about to change the way he plays.
“No different to how I’ve played in any other game, play hard and make sure I’m accurate in what I’m doing on the field. Set piece and make my tackles.”
While Mealamu’s been sidelined with suspension, veteran wing Joe Rokocoko’s not played for a very different reason. Hosea Gear’s form has been irresistible leaving many, including Rokocoko wondering when, or if, he’ll get another chance.
“There’s a lot of wings that have had to watch him over the years and I’m sure they felt the same. It’s been difficult for Joe, hasn’t it,” says All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith.
Which is something Rokocoko knows only too well.
“I just want some game time to show myself I’m still willing to play really well for this team....only two spots available,” says Rokocoko.
So, will one of those two spots go to the veteran this week?
“We’re going to stay true to the philosophy of the tour which is pick the right team for each occasion,” adds Smith.
An occasion Rokocoko’s hopes won’t be his All Blacks swansong.