Thursday, 20 August 2009

If you needed an indictment of Graham Henry’s rotation policy, you need look no further than last Friday night for damning evidence.

A clearly out-of-sorts Jimmy Cowan showed the rustiness and lack of confidence you’d expect from a man who’d played little more than two half-games in the past eight weeks (if you count back to the second French Test on June 20).

To Henry’s credit, though, he’s named his strongest team of the season for tomorrow night’s death or glory Bledisloe battle. Luke McAlister’s inclusion is copping some feral flak on talkback but in tandem with Dan Carter he does offer you right and left foot long-range kicking options to counter Giteau and Barnes.

Like it or loathe it, and I’m in the latter camp, the “modern” game is all about field position.

One doesn’t often get it right in this column, but I picked it like a dirty nose last week and I’m surprised the astute Simon Culhane did not do likewise. Tonight he’s again persisting with James Wilson at 10. Sorry Nibs, but the jury’s out on this one. I hope you prove me wrong.

The goal kicking options will also be interesting. It was questionable Robbie Robinson taking the opening long range kick against Manawatu.

At close to 50 metres it was always going to be more than a nudge for the Boy Wonder. I’ve seen Wilson bang them over from 55 metres and he had nothing to lose by taking the first long range shot. Robinson did have something to lose – his goal kicking confidence – and it duly went walkabout.

Tomorrow night the Central Pirates rugby club celebrates its 60th Jubilee. The older you get, the more nostalgic you get and the more you look back on your years playing club rugby with great fondness.

I proudly spent my playing days at Riversdale but had a bit to do with a couple of Wilsons Crossing legends. Wayne “Jigger” McCallum spent a season at Riversdale before going on to make the New Zealand Colts, while in the 1980s I played a bit of minor rep footy with the Don Johnson (Miami Vice) look-alike, Donny Lewis.

I eventually moved on to radio whereas Donny decided to stay in the decade that brought us acid-wash jeans, Stubbies and bleached hair.

It’ll be great to have a few stubbies again with the bottle-blonde tomorrow night!


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