Rugga World reader, Murph, was in a meeting, sans Gambrinus, when it struck him that the ‘Boks have got their resting phase “backside” about face and, actually, the Kiwis have got it spot on.
I was sitting in a meeting the other day discussing fare structures for a multi-segment route a airline client of mine wanted to fly, there was much debate on how to protect the 2nd leg (B-to-C) from being abused by the low fare added on to the 1st (A-to- B) for “Through Pax”, those traveling A-to-C), writes Murph.
The add-on was being offered to grow traffic and utilize International Traffic rights for the B-C feeding from A, at the same time maximizing the capacity on the original, already operating route. The client wanted to incentivise the AC by offering a low fare thru, essentially giving away the add-on B-C for those flying AC, but this left B-C cheap and open to abuse for those departing at B which in turn meant the AC capacity was blocked.
Any Fooking way… while i worked out how to fix this which was obvious to me, it occurred to me that We got it arse about face with regards to the resting of players for 2nd leg of 3N and the All Blacks have it spot on.
And it goes a little something like this…
While our players need rest the timing of that rest in incorrect in relation to the imminent WC 2007, quite simply they should have been rested for the 1st leg of the Super 14.
There was lots of talk of how the SA players are full of confidence after a DBL SA S14 final and an inevitable SA (1st in …years) win, and how this positive will carry us well in the WC. There was talk of how the Bulls and Sharks Boks had a strong bond from the experience in the Bok camp post S14 final.
How Confident are NZ after an Away win !
We could have competed easily resting our top players at the same time as NZ, considering how the Auz sides struggled, if not there is no truth in the rumor that our touring side is as strong as the last week squad. Who i will now refer to as “squad” players for the sake of the perceptions surrounding them.
There was Talk of how the Squad System and the Depth in S14 and Bok Squad created competition for places and this ultimately raised the game of individuals which was collectively good for the strength of SA rugby.James Small wrote an article in ZOO on this, which i agreed with, but i have weighed it up against how much more NZ rugby benefited from having what would have been bench warmers or close to playing week in week out and performing. How much did any squad member get tested in the S14 Smit and G Botha situation ???
There was talk of the NZ coming back match unfit, and rusty. How many Games of good hard Super 14 do you need to shake off RUST, most were starters within a week of being back. At the Impact of S14 rugby you could bury a landrover off the coast of Isipingo, dig it up 6 months later and it would be rust free after 2 games… And All !!
How much real starting game time did any second choice SA players get to make their mark and shake off rust. How many of our guys sat on / came off the bench throughout the S14 because they were not starters due to niggling injuries, that most are still battling with cause the “bench starts” kept the Injury alive while killing game fitness. Os springs to mind.
Now we go on tour with a our “squad” players as as good as any “1st choice” out there, and there is talk of, “lots to play for” and “WC places to secure”. This will create competition for places too !!!
How many 2nd and more so 3rd choice NZ players kept the 1st and 2nd honest for the duration of the S14 and gave Henry both as many uncomfortable questions about his incumbents as the did relief in the face of unforeseen injury woes to either 1st or 2nd.
Players like Stephen Brett , Isa Nacewa (Fijian but keeping the Level in NZ up no Xeno-phobia there), Mose Tuiali’i , Corey Flynn , Nick Evans, Casey Lualala , Tom Willis, Ross Filipo , Kieran Read, Jerome Kaino. SPRING to mind
There is some real competition for places on the battlefield putting in a performance that draws the kind of comments made by Carter about Brett ! With Luke Mc also watching close. There are guys like Brett who had a real crack at proving their WC worth if needed.
The players selected for the conditioning program were:
Forwards: Jerry Collins (Wellington), Jason Eaton (Taranaki), Carl Hayman (Otago), Andrew Hore (Taranaki), Chris Jack (Tasman), Richie McCaw (Canterbury), Chris Masoe (Wellington), Keven Mealamu (Auckland), Anton Oliver (Otago), Greg Somerville (Canterbury), Rodney So’oialo (Wellington), Reuben Thorne (Canterbury), Ali Williams (Auckland), Tony Woodcock (North Harbour).
Backs: Dan Carter (Canterbury), Byron Kelleher (Waikato), Leon MacDonald (Canterbury), Aaron Mauger (Canterbury), Malili Muliaina (Waikato), Josevata Rokocoko (Auckland), Sitiveni Sivivatu (Waikato), Piri Weepu (Wellington).
The players Highlighted in Bold had the most significant influence on the outcome of the match including Luke McAlister, those coming off the bench had a marked impact as did those in high output, energy sapping positions such as Ritchie and Collins who were not sub-ed and came through looking like they had an extra gear to go. Rusty Match Unfit se Moer !!!!
Consider these players in terms of the stand outs i mentioned from the S14 and their positions in relation to those that stood tall at Kings Park.
With Both 1st Choice Locks out Nogal !
Ahh !! there’s depth, with real “squad” as good as the guy coming off subs !
The emerging Boks should have been used with full sight of the BOK 1st XV’s WC needs, not the away leg.
With that in mind are we risking Gaffie-ing Grant here and we know what that can do to a player.
What we are doing now amounts to panic manage-ing, what Henry had the foresight to announce last year, into next couple of weeks. That coupled hoping for the best with regard to injury. Guys like Os should have been recovered fully then playing through away leg of 3N to get match fit.
We should be Going for Gold, The Triple Crown , S14, 3N, and WC in one year What An Opportunity !
We would have been competitive in S14 without certain senior players , NZ were right up to end. Rather risk that and Have the Double Test series 3N and WC (Double Header), that the what NZ are staring down now.
Thats real confidence ! Not, managing losing one to get another, thats a trade off.
Consider this and ask should we be resting players or do we have to.
A team needs to Bond and Gel before a WC, Tours are where players Bond, not home games, especially if the WC is away as well. Our strongest contenders for WC should be there cementing what Jake had worked so hard for in his selection consistancy.
I’m Not Saying we wont win the WC but did we need to dust all else for it or could we have Gone for the Ultimate !
Its like that and Thats the ways it is
ps We may well win an away 3N game but i dont think that out weighs the combined sum of what the NZ squad are reaping with a settled WC Squad Gel-ing in the Hardest Test Series in the World, the 3N.
[As this was Murph’s fifth draft, the final final final one, it felt cruel to edit it in any way and thus is presented in it’s unexpurgated form. Anyway, it would be sheer folly to mess with Murph’s unique wordplay.]