Monday, 3 October 2011
What a difference one day makes
The week started badly with Balls and ended tragically with a Groin.
Worst bloody nightmare really, isn’t it? The one thing All Black fans did not want to happen has happened ... Dan Carter is out of the Rugby World Cup with an injury. It feels even worse because it was done on the training ground, building up to our last pool game against Canada ... not in guts and glory fashion in a knockout game.
Carter is sublime to watch when on song, the player of his generation (though yet to win a World Cup). I believe he was building to some of his best footy for the Cup, back to 2005’s benchmark No. 10 display in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions. However, it is not to be. He’s gone, kaput, out ... and as much as I can’t express enough sympathy to Carter himself for the emotional hole he is surely in (who surely must, as a player, have the ultimate cause to use that over-uttered word “gutted”), we must move on quickly.
Take a look at our backs division: Mils, Dagg, Kahui, Jane, Toeava, Guildford, SBW, Smith, Nonu, Weepu, Ellis, Cowan and Colin Slade. Not bad, eh? And they are all fit. If our mighty forwards (now including a resurgent Kieran Read) get that front foot ball, all a 10 has to do is pass it and kick it with accuracy.
If Slade is to be our man, with backup from Piri Weepu and called-in Manawatu star pivot, Aaron Cruden, then everyone needs to get behind him.
‘No’ to the sneering, parochial derision that was constantly unleashed from the stands on Stephen Donald when he played for the All Blacks.
‘No’ to the simple dismissal of our chances due to losing one player.
‘No’ to armchair criticism of a player who has not even had a decent chance on the playing field to demonstrate his full range of skills.
The All Blacks can still win this, though I think they have been dragged back into the bunch with South Africa and Australia. More excitingly, that SANZAR triumvirate has all of a sudden had its collar felt by a resurgent Wales, and an Irish side that seem to be the very embodiment of the word ‘peaking’.
I do not believe Argentina stand a chance against New Zealand this weekend, and I don’t think England and France warrant spots in the knockouts on their performances so far - they have both scrapped through because of other close battles in their pools, so they are lucky they get to exercise their Community Chest cards against each other. Having said that though ... this is a knockout tournament and both those squads possess enough skill (and in England’s case, stubbornness) to make the semi finals.
This is game on. No-one here is going to admit to being a neutral, but you have to admit, Carter pulling out really has made this an incredibly tight race for the Cup, and seven of the eight quarter-final competitors stand to take it out.
New Zealand v Wales final anyone? Ireland v Australia final? Perhaps, England v South Africa again?
This is why we are here.