Where the fifteenth franchise?

Eastern Cape or Melbourne?

Well, I don't know what would be best in terms of rugby, I know what would be best for SA, and I know what would be best for Australia.
David Kirk and a retired NZ High Court Judge will determine where the fifteenth franchise goes.

Something tells me that Eastern Cape have no choice. They already have 5 franchises and I don't see kiwis accepting so easily super rugby growing in SA. If we add to this that the conference system forces the new franchise shall play in the AU conference, it means there are hundreds of reasons that can be used in order to justify the election of Melbourne.

So, I don't know what is best, although I have a certain soft spot for the Eastern Cape proposal, but I'm sure of one thing: the franchise goes to Melbourne. It is two kiwis who will have the last word, remember.

Journos asking the impossible

Now there's this Marc Hinton asking silly things again.

Yes, he's done it here. He's asking 5 things to the All Blacks coaches, among them, two pearls:

-use the kick and chase that SA have use to good effect.
-make the game appealing.

Yes, both at the same time.
You are a genious, Marc.

Counting frames

SA-based rugby365 proudly shouts out loud that the All Blacks have ended up counting frames to study lineout jumps, specially Matfield's jumps:

"The All Blacks research unit counted frames on jumpers and Springbok Victor Matfield was the quickest in the world from the ground to the peak of his jump."

The truth is no one needs a single replay to see that Matfield is the quickest jumper on the test arena. The truth is that quicker does not mean better. The truth is that the Lions were able to get a decent percentage of ball from lineouts against the Springboks, and the truth is that those are the videos the All Blacks should be studying.

Southland to get the Ranfurly Shield??

Wyatt Crocket, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Brad Thorn, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Andy Ellis, Daniel Carter.

These are the names of the 8 players Penney won't have in the final defense of the Ranfurly Shield against a stron Southland side who have thrashed Tasman 41-0 and cleanly swept Taranaki 29-13 in their last two games.

Southland only unavailable player due to All Blacks tour is Jimmy Cowan.

Possible Canterbury squad:

15.- Colin Slade
14.- Sean Maitland
13.- Casey Laulala
12.- Tim Bateman
11.- James Paterson
10.- Stephen Brett
9.- Tyson Keats
8.- Nasi Manu
7.- George Whitelock
6.- Michael Paterson
5.- Isaac Ross
4.- Sam Whitelock
3.- Peter Borlase
2.- Ti'i Paulo
1.- Andrew Olorenshaw

Likely Southland Squad:

15.- Glen Horton
14.- Matt Saunders
13.- Kendrick Lynn
12.- Jason Kawau
11.- Pehi Te Whare
10.- Robbie Robinson
9.- Scott Cowan
8.- David Hall
7.- Tim Boys
6.- John Hardie
5.- Joe Tuineau
4.- Josh Bekhuis
3.- Chris King
2.- Jason Rutledge
1.- Jamie Mckintosh

If I were from Invercagill, I would be licking my lips.

Ben Alexander said...

(speaking of Tony Woodcock)

''He is such a smart guy. He constantly adapts and is regularly changing the way he scrummages. You have some loose-heads who scrum one way, and once you figure that out, you can nullify them. But as Woodcock is constantly changing, it makes it very hard. He's definitely given a lot of opposing props curry over the years.''

Steve Tew said

"I'm going to watch with some interest how Graham goes with the lineout"

All Blacks touring squad

The most surprising thing about the squad that will travel northwards is not the inclusion of Delany or Smith. My personal opinion is that they, just like a number of young New Zealand players, really deserve the call.

The most surprising thing is not the absence of Rokocoko, de Malmanche or Ross, either. Rokocoko is a shadow of what he used to be, de Malmanche has indeed got to improve his throwing in, and Ross... well, the selectors had been given hints that he wouldn't tour, had they not?

The most surprising thing about the squad is the coaching reshuffle that Henry has orchestrated and that points towards a name: Steve Hansen. He, as forwards coach has already been named as the ultimate responsible for a poor forwards delivery (mainly in the lineout, really) during the Tri Nations and by taking over the forwards coach duties, Graham Henry implicitly acknowledges Hansen's critics.

Steve Hansen would have been dropped from any other coaching staff, but not from this one which seemingly will march apiece or die apiece.

Interesting. This ought to be seen as loyalty. Loyalty of Henry towards Hansen, just two years after the toughest times in Henry's coaching career, when both Hansen and Smith remained loyal to Henry.

It was a try!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sona Taumalolo scored a try, right during injury time, when his team was 20-27 down that was disallowed in a wrong call by international referee Chris Pollock.

Hawke's Bay played well and deserved more in a high-quality game against the best side in New Zealand (a side with 10 All Blacks, nothing less).

Something's going on in the Bay, and not even the wrong calls of referees will stop it. Zac Guilford, Israel Dagg and Thomas Waldrom, they all deserve a close look by Graham Henry.

All Blacks midfield

With Conrad Smith back in action last week for Wellington, some injury concerns the All Blacks had about their tour may have been eased. Some may not.
Richard Kahui and Isaia Toeava are out for the tour... and Luke McAlister may well join them this very week.

Who's then, ready to travel northwards? Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith, for sure.
Who else? Well, there's plenty to choose from: Tamati Ellison from Wellington, and Shoemark and Kawau from Southland also deserve a close look at them. Canterbury provide a few names; with Laulala leaving NZRU he misses what would have been a certain selection but still, Ryan Crotty, Tim Bateman and even Stephen Brett could fill the 12 position.

Plenty to choose from, actually. But who's going to be besides Nonu and Smith?

Save our teams

There is a campaing in favour of the four "condemned" teams that are going to be cut from the Air New Zealand Cup.

These teams, independently from their performance are thought to be:
  • Northland,
  • Counties Manukau,
  • Manawatu,
  • Tasman.
From now on, I will support the Makos in their Air New Zealand Cup campaign and in their fight to survive the axe.

Here's the website: http://www.saveourteams.co.nz

I don't know if the NZRU is right or wrong, I don't know if 4 teams, 2 teams, 1 team or no team at all need to get out of the way, but I cannot help but feel sorry for a team that is performing as well as Tasman is performing and by no means I'd like to see them axed. NZRU must be certainly afraid of Otago and Auckland performing poorly if they don't dare to take the decission on axing exclusively according to each teams performance.

Go Tasman!! Go Makos!!