Riddle me this: All Black Squad Assessment (part 1)

14 08 2007

Today, The Riddler will give an overview, look at the Front Row & Locks of the New Zealand All Blacks… (links to part 2 & part 3)

The Mighty All BlacksThe Riddlers All Black Squad Assessment
A pretty handy squad assembled. 29 confirmed and 1 to go which is Greg Somerville should he prove himself to be right. Frankly I would leave him at home. Nothing against the guy personally, but he has been out with a knee reconstruction for close to six months, played no super 14, no tests and might have a handful of Air NZ cup games to his name. We have the depth to be picking fully fit and hardened players. Going through the squad, this is my take on it. Very happy with most selected.

Front row
Those chosen are Carl Hayman, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu, Anton Oliver,
Neemia Tialata and Tony Woodcock… with the possible inclusion of Greg Somerville as well. Pretty much no surprises in this lot, however they are taking three hookers with them. Personally I think they only need two. However the one they should axe here is not Andrew Hore, but Anton Oliver.

Can’t stand Anton Oliver – much like many other Kiwis. Why he keeps getting selected completely baffles me. Whatever he has on the selectors must be pretty good. He has cost the All Blacks his fair share of games throughout his career. His lineout throwing has been consistently the worst of any of the major hookers in the world for the best part of a decade. He couldn’t hit the side of a barn door from three paces. Sure… people will argue he’s a great scrummager, but I’d rather have a Mealamu or Hore who are not quite as strong a scrummager but wont give away 50% of their throws and a lot of territorial advantage. One thing’s for sure: I will cringe if they play Oliver against Australia. He is 4 from 14 against the Aussies. A complete contrast to literally every All Black in history. All you have to do is look at his effort at Eden Park in the first half last time NZ played Australia to see exactly why he is more of a liability than an asset in the AB squad.

Somerville I have time for but his fitness is going to be a big issue. With a Hayman-Mealamu-Woodcock front row the AB’s will be dominating again and Tialata and Hore are handy fill ins. As I said, would have gone with just six here instead of seven, omitting the Otago horror… Oliver.

Riddler?  One-eyed All Black fan!Locks
Only three selected here. A bit of a gamble in my opinion given the ways the AB locks have been falling over this season. Those selected are Chris Jack, Ali Williams and Keith Robinson. I would have added someone like a Troy Flavell here given that these three have suffered injuries this season and could be more susceptible to injuries again. It is an area of concern for the AB’s and I think they haven’t fully addressed it in their squad selections. Lose one lock early in the tournament and the coaching staff will be more than worried.

Tomorrow: Back Row, Half-backs & Fly Halves…

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6 responses

14 08 2007

Hi Riddler

Agree with you on the locks but Reuben Thorne does give some cover there. I disagree about Anton Oliver – the lineouts are no better when either of the other two hookers come on. I think the problem is with the coordination between thrower and jumpers and trying to be too fancy. Earlier this season and late last season it looked like our lineouts might be on the improve by doing simple lineouts (finally) but it all seems to have gone backwards in the Trinations again. Part of me wonders if Graham Henry might be playing mind games re the line outs – maybe this is just wishful thinking! By the way, think the picture is very appropriate!

14 08 2007
The Riddler

Hey Bob
Disagree all you want with me about Oliver but the guy is a horror. Have a look at the last tri nations game. First half the AB’s got creamed in the lineout. AB’s lost at least half a dozen throws and many of them the Aussies picked up literally uncontested. Is it the locks fault Oliver is missing him by 2-3 metres. Oliver can’t throw for crap. Thankfully Henry woke up to this fact and dragged him. Soon as Mealamu came on a marked difference in the line outs. Think we may have lost one lineout after that.

Oliver is a liability against any side that can field a decent lineout. He is the biggest liability on the AB squad. No question in my mind about that. How he has lasted this long baffles me. Thankfully Mealamu has been clearly outplaying him so he should be reduced to benchwarmer for the majority of big games. The sooner he pisses off overseas and never wears an AB jumper again the better.

ps: Photo has a definite likeness to it LOL!

14 08 2007

Line outs have been a bloody nightmare for years for the ABs… I remember talking to a Kiwi mate of mine here in Japan about it before the last World Cup!

16 08 2007
Riddle me this: All Black Squad Assessment (part 3) « With Malice…

[…] & Full-backs… then give a wrap-up of the New Zealand All Blacks… here are the links to Part 1 & Part […]

16 08 2007
Riddle me this: All Black Squad Assessment (part 2) « With Malice…

[…] will look at the Back Row, Half-backs & Fly Halves of the New Zealand All Blacks… (links to Part 1 & Part […]

17 08 2007
Mark Logsdon

Full marks for consistency on Oliver, Rids, but it’s a huge risk to go to a tournament with only 2 hookers. To my knowledge, none of the props has experience at hooking. Your call on locks is a very good one, If anything happens to Robinson (who has been pretty fragile for such a big man), the ABs would be seriously challenged. Can’t understand Somerville’s selection in light of the numbers at second row.

What is the rule on injury replacements to roster – any allowed? If you wentin with 2 hookers, could you call another up if one of your two goes down (subject to having only 30 on the roster)?

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