Friday, July 29, 2011

Thomson and McCaw to be flexible
Thursday July 28, 2011 Source: ONE Sport

Adam Thomson and Richie McCaw are set to rotate roles during the All Blacks' opening Tri Nations clash against the Springboks on Saturday.

Thomson has been named to start at No. 8, a position he is yet to play so far in his 18-Test career, with Kieran Read still being rested for the match in Wellington.

Speculation had been rife during the week that McCaw would start at eight, but was named to captain the side from the usual openside position.

However All Blacks coach Graham Henry told media this morning that they would not be playing traditional seven and eight roles.

"It's just a number on the back it means nothing. They'll be flexible depending on what they're doing at the time, so Richie will play seven at line-out and seven at scrum our ball, Henry said.
"It's quite complicated I don't even know myself," he joked.

McCaw will play the role of eight on attacking scrums, while Thomson will pack there on defence and both will play a flexible role in open play.
Henry said the move is not planned to be long-term and was simply a measure to best use the players available to them for this Test.

"We haven't got a player that normally plays eight at the level below, so we'll just fix that as best we can for each particular situation."

Thomson admitted that he hadn't expected to be wearing the No. 8 jersey when he was recalled to the All Blacks.

"I guess it was a bit of surprise, I saw myself more as a six or a seven, but to get this opportunity to play eight I think is a great opportunity for me," he said.
"If I can establish myself as a loose forward that can play all three positions, it's a pretty exciting prospect."

He said he isn't daunted by being thrown in the deep end and is looking forward to the versatile nature of the assignment.

"I guess it's a real hybrid position and getting a taste of seven and eight at the same time is a chance to play both positions and challenge myself with different roles."

Jerome Kaino returns to the starting line up for the match at blindside flanker and Liam Messam drops to provide loose forward cover from the bench.
The return of Sam Whitelock to partner Ali Williams at lock is the only other change to the forwards.

In the backs Daniel Carter takes up his regular post in the No. 10 jersey, sending Colin Slade to the bench.

Cory Jane gets a chance to improve on the right wing after recovering from his dislocated finger suffered playing for Wellington two weeks ago.
He will be eager to impress following an injury-plagued Super Rugby season where he struggled to find form with the bumbling Hurricanes.

"CJ's got an opportunity in the weekend and he might get another who knows - we haven't selected the side for the next three games," Henry said.
"I think the players know, particularly the back three, that they're going to get limited opportunity and when they get that opportunity they're going to have to nail it."

Another likely to get an opportunity to prove himself is Sonny Bill Williams who will come off the bench in his first Test on New Zealand soil, with incumbent midfielders Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith retaining the starting spots.


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