Thursday, 4 November 2010

Rugby is a game built around clichés.

It was a game of two halves, the boys dug deep, it was a real battle up front, we’re not looking any further ahead than Saturday, we’re moving forward together and, one of my particular favourites, no quarter was asked and none was given.

The latter aptly and cruelly describes the fortunes of the forlorn Stephen Donald. He was given a quarter in the cauldron of Hong Kong and when the questions were asked he had no answers. He’s now being described in the same breath as that most unfortunate of All Blacks, Colin Farrell.

An unfortunate All Black is of course an oxymoron. There’s no such thing. Every kiwi kid who grew up dreaming of wearing the silver fern will vouch for that. However there are some who probably wished they’d never been selected. Farrell, a fine fullback for Auckland in the 1970s, heads that list. Donald, also an excellent performer at provincial level, now joins him.

With that in mind, I thought I’d have a crack at a Fortunate Fifteen from the past 35 years (and I chose that arbitrary chronological peg in the sand for no other reason than being able to include Farrell in my side). To qualify, All Blacks need to have played a test match.

Colin Farrell (vice captain), Sosene Anesi, Shayne Philpott, Marty Berry, Isaia Toeava, Stephen Donald, Kevin Senio, Xavier Rush, Sione Lauaki, Mark Carter, Reuben Thorne (captain), Dion Waller, Saimone Taumoepeau, John Afoa and Perry Harris.

Some might consider 50-test veteran Reuben Thorne a shade unlucky to be included in Fortunate Fifteen, especially at lock where he generally performed with merit, but he made the cut wholly and solely on the back of his truly un-inspirational captaincy which peaked at the 2003 Rugby World Cup where he showed the leadership of a lemming.

There are three current All Blacks in the side. Donald’s Hong Kong ding-dong has seen him displace Simon Mannix, Wayne Smith’s “special project” Toeava is an automatic selection and Afoa makes it as a hooker who’s extremely fortunate to be an All Black prop.

And before all the do-gooders jump down my throat, they would need to remove my tongue from my cheek. Becoming an All Black in this country is still one of the greatest honours that can be bestowed upon a bloke. And given the chance, I would swap my lot at the drop of a hat to walk a mile in their boots, even Farrell’s wayward pair!


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