Hertford Highlander

Sharks player kicking down All Black door !

Written by Gwyn Pratley (Hertford Highlander)

Posted in :All Blacks, In the news, RWC 2011, Sharks, Super Rugby on 28 Apr 2011 at 12:03
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Duncan Johnstone writes on Rugby Heaven for Fairfax Media that former Sharks fly-half Tony Brown is making the All Black selectors sit up and take notice.

Tony Brown should be Dan Carter’s backup in the All Blacks this year.

Don’t laugh, I’m serious.

At the ripe old age of 36 and 10 years after playing the last of his 18 tests for New Zealand, I’m advocating a recall.

It’s an indictment on the current stocks of our first five-eighths that Brown, on the back of his latest Super Rugby comeback with the Highlanders, should even rate a mention.

But I’d rate him right up there when all the options are considered.

This season is all about the World Cup and I’m afraid time has run out in terms of development.

There aren’t enough tests left to get someone like Aaron Cruden up to speed for this biggest of assignments.

The World Cup is all about performance rather than development.

So what of the options going around?

The All Blacks’ patience with Stephen Donald must surely be exhausted and his Chiefs team mate Mike Delany has done nothing to show he should be the man.

Stephen Brett’s flighty side has been apparent in the Blues’ resurgence while the valid talk of Luke McAlister’s versatility as an option goes against his stated preference to play at second five.

Colin Slade appeared the most capable No 10 going around besides Carter but with his second broken jaw of the season meaning 10 weeks on the sidelines, time is fast running out on his opportunities.

Slade’s misfortune has thrown Brown forward in this remarkable season for the Highlanders. And oh, how he has answered that SOS. He was massive in the Highlanders’ upset of the Crusaders in Nelson last weekend.

The thing with Brown is you know what you are going to get – a very capable tactician, a rock-solid defender, a great team man, a cool head with tons of experience and a player who has a boot for territory and the goalposts.

He’s not flashy but what more do you need when, if everything is going sweetly at the World Cup, you only require your backup No 10 to be sitting on the bench?

But if that backup player suddenly had to come on for the last 20 minutes of a World Cup final and guide the All Blacks home or get them out of a hole, right now I’d suggest the best candidate might just be Mr Brown.

Does age count against him? Not necessarily. Brad Thorn is also 36 and is a World Cup certainty. Thorn will be operating in the thick of the forwards his body will take far more punishment.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry has just been trumpeting the retention of hooker Keven Mealamu who is 32. Fellow All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore will turn 33 during the World Cup. Fullback Mils Muliaina, whose record 94 tests caps look certain to be added to, will be 31 in July.

It’s been interesting to see some of the Super Rugby franchises opt for experience to solve a few puzzles.

The Chiefs started that by including 37-year-old Tana Umaga in their midst and the Highlanders didn’t hesitate to bring in Brown as cover. Neither has let their teams down.

Now the Crusaders have gone for 36-year-old Reuben Thorne to plug a hole in their squad for their South African tour.

Given the responsibilities that go with playing first five, experience counts for plenty and probably never more so than at a World Cup.

But form is vital too and right now Brown’s form is as good, if not better, than any No 10 running around in a New Zealand Super Rugby team.

Having lived in the shadow of Andrew Mehrtens and Carlos Spencer during his initial time with the All Blacks from 1999 to 2001, playing second fiddle to Carter wouldn’t bother Brown.

And unless someone better can put their hand up over the second half of the Super campaign, it certainly wouldn’t bother me.


  • I might try and get a word with him after the game against the Blues tomorrow ! ❓

  • Comment 1, posted at 28.04.11 12:07:38 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • Surely the headline should begin with former.

  • Comment 2, posted at 28.04.11 12:09:04 by war1 Reply
  • Haha Sharks player you say HH.

  • Comment 3, posted at 28.04.11 12:10:34 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 3) :

    Well he was wasn’t he ! 😎

  • Comment 4, posted at 28.04.11 12:15:35 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • Good heading to get the hits..

    Well played HH..

  • Comment 5, posted at 28.04.11 12:16:37 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • @war1 (Comment 2) :

    True War … a bit of a hook …I must admit ! 😉

  • Comment 6, posted at 28.04.11 12:16:59 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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