Saturday, May 22, 2010

2010 First AB Squad

Its time to start to draw some conclusions from Super 14 form, the areas we struggled in through 2009 and the need for depth for the 2011 World Cup.  In some areas, its very tricky with little back up as was revealed when Dan Carter fell over last year and Maa Nonu has demonstrated this year.  There have also been some big form slumps - what do you do with that?  My initial thought is to treat the June tests as a bit of a one-off and play some players into form.  So anyway, here it is...


Ben Franks (can play both sides), Owen Franks, Tony Woodcock, John Afoa.  I am over Tialata.  Crockett is good around the field but is not there for the scrum.  I would start Owen Franks and Woodcock, with Ben Franks on the bench.  If Woodcock doesn't front up then Ben Franks gets a start.


Keven Mealamu, Hikawera Elliot (he has the most promise...)  You've got to like the attitude of a guy like Jason Rutledge but at 32 you can't pick him - de Malmanche can't throw so unless you go back to Flynn what can you do?


Brad Thorne, Anthony Boric, Tom Donnelley, Sam Whitelock (for the future)


McCaw, Thompson, Kaino

No 8

Reid, Messam

Half Backs

Cowan, Fotuali'i (this guy is great...)

1st V

Carter, the hardest selection is for the back up - Donald and McAllister have been tried and found wanting - so you have to go to the best of the rest.  So its down to Cruden and Robinson.  Cruden has had the best of the selection opportunities with the Highlanders using Berquist and Hobbs as well as Robinson.  So on that basis, pick Cruden now.

2nd V

Who ever you pick here is warming the bench for Nonu.  But you have to have someone who is part of your long term plans in order to build depth.  Ditto the above comment on Donald and McAllister.  But the remainder is not great either.  Bowden appeals but has been swapping the role with Bateman and Crotty all season position and is heading overseas.  Stanley is solid and wouldn't be a bad option.  If Toeva is fit he'd get the nod for me as he would be in my wider group.  There is no standout for this role so I would go with Toeva to start as one of the likely bench players in a fully fit team, with Stanley as backup in the squad.


Conrad Smith with Toeva as back up


Joe R, Zac Guildford with Jayne as cover


Mils, Jayne

Alright it ain't perfect but it shows the lack of depth right now in some key positions.  It would help if Super 14 teams with some talent would give some of the guys a decent run.  I am thinking in particular of Highlanders rotating Hobbs, Robinson and Berquist and Crusaders rotating Crotty, Bateman and Bowden.  Same goes for Chiefs - give Hika a decent go so he can push for the AB's.

It would also mean the forward pack I pick would have 4 Crusaders which isn't going to hurt...still prepared to be swayed on selections...


Richard Loe said...

Here's my squad of 22. Cruden is too young - you were on the right track with Slade.


* Keven Mealamu
* Tony Woodcock
* Owen Franks
* Brad Thorn
* Sam Whitelock
* Jerome Kaino
* Richie McCaw
* Kieran Read
* Alby Mathewson
* Dan Carter
* Benson Stanley
* Conrad Smith
* Joe Rokocoko
* Zac Guildford
* Cory Jane

Bench: Hika Elliott, Ben Franks, Anthony Boric, Adam Thomson; Andy Ellis, Colin Slade, Rudi Wulf.

Rhett said...

Is Isaac Ross injured? Or just a flash in the pan?

Anyway, here's my 22 for Test #1...

1. B. Franks
2. Mealamu
3. O. Franks
4. Boric
5. Thorne
6. Kaino
7. McCaw
8. Read
9. Cowan
10. Carter
11. Rokocoko
12. Stanley
13. Jane
14. Guildford
15. Mils

Bench: Elliot, Woodcock, Whitelock, Thomson, Fotuali'i, Cruden, Jane

To my mind, Mils is walking a form tightrope, Jane ready to pounce at any moment.

Unluckiest NZ player: Weepu. The guy should go make his money overseas, I wouldn't blame him at all. Best player to miss out.

Slade, Toeava and Kahui (I believe in you Richard!) would be on the cusp in my wider squad.

Rhett said...

By the way, have you seen the Saffa squad for their first game?

It's an experimental one (Butch James at centre!!!) but it worries me how much depth they have at the moment, when we have so little.

But if there is a silver lining, it's that England were the only team regarded as the "best" team to win a World Cup since we did it in 1987.

BJ said...

We are very close in selection here - I assume you typoed Jane in at centre and you meant Smith!

1. Woodcock
2. Mealamu
3. O. Franks
4. Boric
5. Thorne
6. Kaino
7. McCaw
8. Read
9. Cowan
10. Carter
11. Rokocoko
12. Toeva
13. Smith
14. Guildford
15. Mils

Bench: Elliot, B. Franks, S. Whitelock, Thomson, Fotuali'i, Cruden, Jane

I'm not 100% happy with the balance here. Jane covers fullback and wing. Cruden covers 10 and 12 (at a pinch). Toeva covers centre - at 2nd V he brings the ability to take it up and be elusive. He gets the nod because he would be my utility reserve so best to give him a run as the likely actual person who will play in tests if Nonu comes off injured. NPC, Super 14 and the end of year tour are the place to try someone outside the group.

BJ said...

Toeva is now also officially out with an op. This makes for a tricky selection...

You could bring Kahui in at 2nd V - he has played there in the past and while his attack has been "off" this season he has been fine defensively. He also has a kicking game from his days at 1st V at club level. Plus he's been part of the group.

Stanley is a strong option too. He's a lefty which disn't ideal with Carter swinging that way as well. He will bring strong defence and he is better on attack than he is given credit for.

Slade, is on the edge of my squad as a utility. He's a possibility for 2nd V if on my logic he is the replacement for Toeava in the wider squad as one of the bench sitters.

As I think about it, I like the idea of playing Kahui into some form. Maybe he could get a run at 2nd V? If Stanley comes in, then the cover at centre is exposed. Or Slade could play at 2nd in which case you'd have better balance on the bench with Kahui, dropping Cruden off the bench and seeing Slade as the utility pivot.

Lets see if anyone else gets on the Kahui at 2nd V bandwagon! That or Sonny Bill...

BJ said...

"We think Richard has the skills to play second five so it's a good opportunity to give him a run," Smith said of Kahui playing at No 12 against the Baabaas.
22 October 2008

Rhett said...

Whoops, yeah I meant Smith at centre.

Wynne Gray said...

Wynne Gray's form XV
Cory Jane, Zac Guildford, Conrad Smith, Mils Muliaina, Rudi Wulf, Daniel Carter, Kahn Fotuali'i, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw, Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock.

Ben Franks, Corey Flynn, Anthony Boric, Victor Vito, Alby Mathewson, Colin Slade, Richard Kahui.

Neemia Tialata, Adam Thomson, Stephen Donald, Ben Smith.

Rhett said...

I was about to post a link to this.

You know, I think I might be swinging to Rene Ranger at centre.

But Mils?

Has this guy watched any of the past World Cups? I thought Gray had a level head.

Rhett said...

Sorry, whoops again.

I mean Ranger at 2nd V.

Rhett said...

So now Kahui has gone down...

The guy is made of glass.

You just know they are going to go with Stephen Donald now.