Thursday, May 23, 2019

Rugby World Cup - Helping Shag with his team.

This is number two and this time I am going to cover the midfield - in doing this I am very mindful of the fact that this is the area which has the potential to blow the All Black Campaign apart. Why is that you ask - well read on and see if you agree with my thoughts.

MIDFIELD BACKS: The selectors have made it very clear that they will be taking four midfield backs and the players they want are - Josh Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams and Anton Lienert-Brown.

There are few armchair selectors who would disagree with that plan except for one factor. Both Crotty and Williams are very injury prone and in Crotty's case another whack on the head could put him out of rugby permanently while Williams seems to have struggled to complete more than half a game at any time over the last two seasons. This is not a criticism of either player but there is a definite risk in selecting either or both of them in the squad.

If either of them are ruled out in the lead up to the cup, or either Goodhue or Lienert-Brown for that matter, Ngani Laumape provides a ready made replacement and while he has limitations to his game he could be devastating off the bench at any stage of the competition - I would be very nervous to see him starting in a big game though.

What do we do if another replacement is needed? A year ago Richard Buckman (the barracuda) was being touted as an outsider for the end of year tour but he went down with injury and we did not find out if he was actually in contention - injury has dogged him since then. Matt Proctor had a game in Japan last year and is a possible while Braydon Ennor has filled in for Goodhue at the Crusaders and they are probably the pick of the rest. Perhaps a longshot would be David Havilli who plays in the midfield for Tasman in the provincial championship.

Keen eyed readers will see I have not so far mentioned Nonu and the simple reason for that is the All Blacks would be in a really desparate situation to go back to a player who turned 37 a couple of days ago. History shows that as players get older while their experience can count the tendency to take short cuts is very much an inhibiting factor. It is also clear from watching Nonu for the Blues that he lacks the acceleration and pace required to cut it at the top level. Not in my team.


gravedodger said...

One Question pdm if Crotty became a casualty for another head injury can he be replaced.
Two conflicting bits here, the HIA protocols have definite safety gains for players but then there is the no replacements for an injury carried into the tournament?

A tough ask I know but it is a definite problem for RC , that said, without him present, things do go a bit ropey.

Did Tei Walden from the Highlanders come up on your radar?
I guess that is more than one question, forgive me my maths.

pdm said...

GD I haven't looked at the injury replacement rules because my focus is solely on who the selectors will pick and/or at this stage who they have pencilled in. With regard to Crotty my concern is that another head knock could rule him out of rugby for his personal safety and that could happen in Super Rugby or the lead up tests.

Walden did cross my mind but I think he is rated behind those I mentioned. In fact Thompson is the Highlander I have seen touted as a possible mid field option but he loses the ball too often in contact to make my team. I would have Walden ahead of him.