Friday, 13 June 2014

“It’s the putting right that counts”

It can't happen again, Can it? No. It can not, and will not.

Last week was a horrible glitch in our national matrix; an All Black abomination and Brainfart-a-thon of such totality that coach Steve Hansen was bang on when he said “If we turned around and said, ‘So and so shouldn't start because he played poorly,’ then we wouldn't have anyone on the park.”

So, let’s all get it off our chests and let the team go hard on the training pitch for a week. Every sane armchair fan will know that no one will have felt the pain of that performance harder than the players themselves - they came terribly close to a Looney Tunes-style banana skin last week, and almost limply handed over the Eden Park Hoodoo  to a ‘second string’ (Waa! Waaa! Media cliché klaxon!) England team.
We had our (limited) chances to bust out last week, but for inexplicable cases of the dropsies. The Yips seemed to follow the outside backs home from the driving range last week. It was the sort of performance we usually save for Rugby World Cup knock out matches.

“If we turned around and said, ‘So and so shouldn't start because he played poorly,’ then we wouldn't have anyone on the park.”

Yet, the reshuffle of starting lineups has come from the Red Rose team. Stuart Lancaster has performed surgery on his backline, and excised the very midfield that caused us so many issues last week - dropping Kyle Eastmond, and shifting Manu Tuilagi to the right wing. In comes a completely new 9-10-12-13 combo of Danny Care, Owen Farrell, Billy ‘36’ Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell. Gamble or sure thing?
Actually, I’m keen to see Manu on the wing. This guy loves his rugby, he was smiling at his opposites as they formed up across from each other before scrums last week. And having him face up to the returning Julian Savea is a juicy prospect. Go, The Bus!
The English pack pretty much remain though, and their impact last week was huge. They will not back down one iota, so our loosies are going to have to be more visible this week. Actually, I'm not talking about you, Jerome. [Bromance Alert]
So, wheel them out again, Shag. “It’s the putting right that counts” as legendary whiteware purveyor LV Martin used to say. I’m liking Ben Smith getting his chance at 15 now, so Cory Jane can return Gazelle-like to his natural plains out on the left. Let's see that fend, CJ! And I'm hoping that Aaron Cruden takes on the line more this week after not running it at all last week. Whether that was lack of confidence or a game plan (or combination of the two) I don't know - but a bit more front foot from him, and Savea or Ben Smith sharking off his shoulders and we’re back in business.
Off the pace? Complacency? Under prepared? Whatever it was, I think they will have awakened from that fever dream, their Steinlager hangover. This week under the roof at Forsyth Barr, conditions will provide the perfect stage for the All Blacks to unleash their preferred high tempo rugby - provided Jaco Peyper cuts down on the endless Glee-like English huddles before every set piece.
New Zealand by 12+ this week.


Anonymous said...

Cannot wait for the game! I think that Lancaster is making a mistake putting Tuilagi out on the wing and reshuffling his team like that. But I could be proven wrong - it has been known to happen occasionally before.

British press is driving me crazy with their bleating about the All Black aura which has allegedly now been put out to pasture by these white orcs on steroids (and Big Macs too if their front row in those tight white shirts are anything to go by).

We'll see in good time if England are as good as they are hyping themselves up to be. And if the All Blacks really are on the way down.


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