KSA Shark ©

Henry names a team to placate angry public and save his neck

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :All Blacks, In the news on 5 Jun 2008 at 00:00

Graham Henry had one eye on the wreckage of last year’s World Cup and the other on the blue blade of the executioner’s axe hanging over his neck in announcing the New Zealand team for the Test against Ireland in Wellington on Saturday.

Phil Wilkins writes on RugbyHeaven Aus that you don’t stay head coach of the All Blacks long if you meddle with the public’s passionately held and knowledgeable views about New Zealand’s players.

“I say sack the whole lot of the bastards,” rasped the legendary second-rower of 55 Tests, Colin “Pinetree” Meads, at a sportsmen’s night last month, summarising the nation’s foul mood about the selectors.

Gone this week were the fearless “conditioning program” and the experimentation and unproven combinations of last year’s campaign, which ultimately led to the All Blacks losing their World Cup quarter-final with France 20-18.

A chastened selection panel of Henry, Wayne Smith and Steve Hansen released a team based on an emphatic policy of “combinations are crucial”.

Into New Zealand’s front row comes Andrew Hore, the tough, unsparing hooker, probably the best of all the Super 14 tournament rakes, and his versatile Hurricanes front-row partner, loose-head Neemia Tialata. The Blues’ 122 kilogram prop John Afoa anchors the scrum at tight-head.

In midfield, the Hurricanes pairing of Ma’a Nonu at inside-centre and Conrad Smith at No.13 have been selected outside Crusaders’ halfback Andy Ellis and five-eighth Daniel Carter.

With blindside breakaway Jerry Collins retired, the selectors opted to move Test No.8 Rodney So’oialo to side of the pack and Blues back-rower Jerome Kaino to take his place.

Because of the exodus of All Blacks to club rugby in the northern hemisphere, only eight of the 17 World Cup forwards remain and seven of the 14 backs. Prop Tony Woodcock and halfback Brendon Leonard were unavailable because of injury.

The chapter on Mils Muliaina as a midfielder appears to have been closed, with selectors returning him to fullback. However, his head-to-head battle with Leon MacDonald for the position will be an engrossing, season-long struggle.

The only new face in the starting XV is Blues’ winger Anthony Tuitavake, who becomes All Black No.1072, while three other uncapped players have been named on the bench: second-rower Anthony Boric (Blues), loose forward Adam Thomson (Highlanders) and five-eighth Stephen Donald (Chiefs).

When the New Zealand Rugby Union announced it would retain Henry as head coach, it gifted Australia Robbie Deans. It was an enormous favour. But it kept the axe under its coat, making sure Henry was presented with only a two-year contract.

All Blacks as announced by the NZRFU:

Starting XV:
1. Neemia Tialata
2. Andrew Hore
3. John Afoa
4. Brad Thorn
5. Ali Willliams
6. Rodney So’oialo
7. Richie McCaw (c)
8. Jerome Kaino
9. Andy Ellis
10. Dan Carter
11. Sitiveni Sivivatu
12. Ma’a Nonu
13. Conrad Smith
14. Anthony Tuitavake
15. Mils Muliaina

16. Keven Mealamu
17. John Schwalger
18. Anthony Boric
19. Adam Thomson
20. Jimmy Cowan
21. Stephen Donald
22. Leon MacDonald


  • My work colleagues haven’t said a word, so I can’t read into how they feel about this team. Being Cantabrians they are still smarting at loosing Deans to the Ausies, some even swearing to support the Ausies this year. I will wait and see. You see I haven’t much to say either because like Gatland I also can’t read into PdV’s plan. Playing a Test without your first choice Kicker is dubious, and isn’t Matfield regarded as the best Lineout Forward???I get a tingling feeling in my feet (like standing on the edge of a High Building) when I want to dismiss the notion that political agendas are high in certian peoples priorities. ( OH PLEASE please make me wrong). Its just the PdV seems very unsure of himself hence the reason he seems to change his mind mid sentence. Or maybe having Muir around he is playing mind games with the opposition as to the run on team. One thing I can say without any hesitation the team above is hugely talented, however a well coached Bok Front Row should hold the upper hand against this one, both these props fade during the tight stuff prefer having ball in hand smashing the opposition.

  • Comment 1, posted at 05.06.08 02:04:33 by Dynamite Reply
  • All this moaning yet still an AWESOME side…

  • Comment 2, posted at 05.06.08 06:43:35 by bryce_in_oz Reply
  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 2) : Matfield has been playing the equivalent of the vodacom cup in France.Let him chill on the bench for a few minutes, no problem here.

  • Comment 3, posted at 05.06.08 07:38:26 by PJLD Reply
  • reply was supposed to be to comment 1.
    ok im going on a caffeine mission

  • Comment 4, posted at 05.06.08 07:38:59 by PJLD Reply
  • @PJLD (Comment 4) :

    I said the same on another thread… but I’m less concerned with Matfield starting than I am Percy…

  • Comment 5, posted at 05.06.08 07:52:37 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • Ja,a kicker would be nice.

  • Comment 6, posted at 05.06.08 07:57:51 by PJLD Reply
  • you reckon Butch has forgotten how to kick?

  • Comment 7, posted at 05.06.08 08:10:09 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • ja ok man

  • Comment 8, posted at 05.06.08 08:18:11 by PJLD Reply
  • @PJLD (Comment 8) : Butch have always been a reliable kicker… :mrgreen:

  • Comment 9, posted at 05.06.08 08:21:12 by Charlie Reply

  • @Charlie (Comment 9) : Maybe he wasn’t the no. 1 kicker for Bath but surely he can still kick.

    Anybody seen him practice recently?

  • Comment 10, posted at 05.06.08 08:26:06 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • Oh…and that’s a mean NZ team…can’t wait to take them on.

  • Comment 11, posted at 05.06.08 08:30:40 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • Let Butch concentrate on his game… Percy is a machine…

  • Comment 12, posted at 05.06.08 08:52:35 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • Now this is the sort of competition our ‘B’ side should be playing against…

    NZ Maori for Tongan game

    1. Keith Cameron
    2. Hika Elliot
    3. Clint Newland
    4. Ross Filipo
    5. Jason Eaton
    6. Liam Messam (Co-captain)
    7. Tanerau Latimer
    8. Thomas Waldrom
    9. Piri Weepu
    10. Callum Bruce
    11. Hosea Gear
    12. Tamati Ellison (Co-captain)
    13. Jason Kawau
    14. Zar Lawrence
    15. Shannon Paku


    16. Aled de Malmanche
    17. Ben May
    18. Isaac Ross
    19. Daniel Braid
    20. Chris Smylie
    21. Tim Bateman
    22. Glen Horton

  • Comment 13, posted at 05.06.08 09:16:04 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • Co Captain?

  • Comment 14, posted at 05.06.08 09:17:13 by PJLD Reply
  • @PJLD (Comment 14) : Maori culture demands that everything is shared…

  • Comment 15, posted at 05.06.08 09:48:54 by bryce_in_oz Reply

  • Jason Eaton? I guess you only need to be one sixteenth Maori to qualify, right?

  • Comment 16, posted at 05.06.08 09:58:42 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 16) : Cos he sure looks like a big, dumb pakeha to me!

  • Comment 17, posted at 05.06.08 09:59:55 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 16) : Who was that ginger Maori?

  • Comment 18, posted at 05.06.08 10:00:00 by ra-cheltjie de' be-er Reply

  • @ra-cheltjie de’ be-er (Comment 18) : I can see his face, but the name escapes me. You know Tony Brown qualifies, right?

  • Comment 19, posted at 05.06.08 10:04:41 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • #

    @robdylan (Comment 16) : Who was that ginger Maori?
    Comment 18, posted at 05.06.08 10:00:00 by ra-cheltjie de’ be-er Reply

    Paul Tito

  • Comment 20, posted at 05.06.08 11:39:42 by wpw (YNWA) Reply
  • Zar Lawrence 😯

    If he brings some of his 7’s form then these guys will be unstoppable.

  • Comment 21, posted at 05.06.08 11:56:51 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Hosea Gear should’ve been in the AB side.

  • Comment 22, posted at 05.06.08 12:01:24 by Bok-El Reply

  • @wpw (YNWA) (Comment 20) : That’s him. Thanks. 😀

  • Comment 23, posted at 05.06.08 12:12:32 by ra-cheltjie de' be-er Reply

  • Kiwi’s think ANY team with McCaw & Carter is unbeatable.
    Tke Box could beat this team in NZ.

  • Comment 24, posted at 05.06.08 12:18:10 by Bok-El Reply

  • @wpw (YNWA) (Comment 20) :

    Think Keith Robinson also played for the Maori… and he’s also a ‘blood-nut’…

  • Comment 25, posted at 05.06.08 16:21:57 by bryce_in_oz Reply


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