Saturday, September 17, 2011

Business Time

So its money where mouth is time for the AB's squad - so here is my team to play every game from here, rather than the one they may pick:

1. Woodcock
2.  Mealamu
3.  Franks
4.  Thorn
5.  Whitelock
6.  Kaino
7.  McCaw
8.  Read/Vito
9.  Cowan
10. Carter
11.  Kahui
12.  Nonu
13.  Smith
14.  Jane
15.  Dagg

Reserves: Hore/Afoa/Williams/Vito (or Thompson)/Weepu/Muliaina/Williams

So the justifications around the marginal selections.  Whitelock starts ahead of Williams for his accuracy and workrate, but William's big game temperament and impact game gets him game time off the bench.  Cowan gets in on his defence round the fringes ahead of the impact of Weepu and the better clearance but reduced physical presence of Ellis.  Kahui and Jane beat out Toeva and the out of his league Guildford.  Dagg gets the nod on form at full back.  This is the lineup I expect the AB selectors to name.

The bench is the hard call, but I have gone for a team to win the World Cup stacked with impact players.  Afoa beats out the less mobile Franks.  Vito is the utility ahead of Thompson if Read is fit.  Covering 6 and 8 is more important for me than covering 7 - McCaw needs to play the whole game if we are to win. 

The big call is in the backs.  I take the risk that Weepu will cover 1st V ahead of Slade.  Again Carter must play the whole game so the substitute requirement is to cover injury not a tactical substitution.  If Carter goes off injured I back Weepu over Slade to steady the ship and Cowan to tough out the full 80.  Williams simply must play.  He is a gamebreaker of huge talent covering centre/2nd V (and now apparently wing).  Its Muiliaina who fills out the mix though as he too can cover Centre, Wing and fullback and offers stability and experience with gamebreaking ability coming in fresh.  When you add in the versatility of the starting wingers there are plenty of tactical options on attack or to consolidate a winning position.

I think there are risks however you select the back reserves.  The risk I take is banking on Carter finishing the game and not getting 2 injuries at halfback and 1st V.  Unfortunately we simply don't have a back up 1st V who is even close to ready - and I don't think it would make much difference if it were Donald, Slade or Cruden - they are all fragile compared to the rugby nouse and experience of Weepu.

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