Thursday, 1 July 2010

Last week we celebrated the 35th anniversary of the classic 1970s horror flick Jaws.

By today’s standards it’s pretty tame, even though I defy any first-time viewer not to sit bolt upright in their seat when the giant shark smashes on to the boat.

Jaws was a low-budget box office smash in the US summer of 1975. Hollywood loves nothing more than squeezing the life out of a successful formula so it was no surprise to Jaws reprised in the form of Jaws 2 in 1978.

The promotional blurb encouraging you to watch Jaws 2 was “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”. And just like that other great 70s advertising catch-cry “Claytons – the drink you have when you’re not having a drink”, it soon became the vernacular of the day. In fact, I still use the Jaws reference today when it comes to happenings that ascend suddenly from the murky depths to bite you in the bum.

And “just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”, aptly describes my feeling for the All Blacks coaching panel, their Tri-Nations squad and the red-hot rumour Steve Hansen will coach the Highlanders in 2011.

Just when you thought it was safe to start liking the three wise men again after the very promising Dunedin test, they bring back the dreaded rotation and inconsistency of selection policy.

There’s no rhyme or reason for Zac Guildford and Adam Thomson to be dropped for Rene Ranger and Liam Messam, respectively, and you’d have to question what Hosea Gear has to do to displace slow Joe Rokocoko? Ditto for Luke McAlister. Surely he’s done enough to earn a recall to be the goal-kicking back up to Dan Carter and the second five-eighth back-up to Ma’a Nonu?

As promising as young Aaron Cruden is, his arrival on the park means you’ve got to immediately also sub your top halfback, Jimmy Cowan, to get Piri Weepu on to kick the goals. Don’t get me started on Kieran Read being the back-up No. 7 to Richie McCaw or Cruden the third halfback option or John Afoa the third hooker!

My initial reaction to the Hansen rumour was if he’s the answer to the Highlanders woes then what the hell’s the question? Remembering that his overture to coach the Crusaders was snubbed by the NZRU, it seems bizarre there would be a change of heart in World Cup year, the one season you’d think he’d have plenty on his plate.

Then I thought about the upside for the Highlanders. An incumbent All Black selector with international coaching experience will do no harm for player recruitment and retention in World Cup year. If you’re an aspiring All Black why wouldn’t you have a crack with the Highlanders?

Suddenly I had a horror-movie thought. The lineout! Tom Donnelly and Josh Bekhuis are doing quite nicely thanks, without any meddling from the man who muddled the All Blacks lineout last year.

Then the penny dropped! Ah! Steve could coach the team but be the Claytons lineout coach – the one you have when you’re not really having one!


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