While there is one more test to go (and therefore now is not the time to sharpen coaching knives) it IS time to begin thinking through the 30 for the end of year tour. So I've picked my team, not the one they will pick. Comment away if you've done little else but think about this and find yourself blogless...
My method is this:
- Take out the injured ones
- Work how who needs a rest and leave them at home
- Give the performers this year a chance
- Retire those who seem past it now and give some new blood a shot
In that last category? So'oialo, Thorn, Donald, Rokococo. In the 2nd category Mils.
Fullbacks - Corey Jane and Israel Dagg (lets see who comes through as the top contender)
Wings - Sivivatu, Masaga, Gear (Jane, Slade etc can fill in)
Centres - Toeava, Robert Fruean (HUGE potential) - Assumption: Smith and Kahui are not available
2nd Five - Nonu, Jayden Hayward (the most talented 2nd V on display in the Air NZ Cup) - Assumption: McAllister is injured
1st Five - Carter, Cruden, Slade (Slade has utility value as well)
Halfback - Cowan, Leonard (it would be good to have a third, but not enough space and who?)
No.8 - Read, Messum (must be given a chance to develop his huge potential)
Blindside - Kaino, Thompson (can cover 7 as well)
Open Side - McCaw, Whitelock
Locks - Ross, Boric, Eaton, Jack (to see if he's ready and to pass on experience
Props - Woodward, McIntosh, Franks, Afoa (they'll take Crockett instead of McIntosh)
Hookers - Hore, De Malmanche, Hika Elliot (got to get another go)
Alright so thats 32 :) 2 to be omitted...take out a lock, a hooker or a first five...maybe they'll prefer Slade as a fullback to Dagg which would be a shame...
I reserve the right to think some more :)