NZ coach backs flyhalf Slade

2011-10-02 13:56

Wellington - All Blacks coach Graham Henry has anointed Colin Slade his flyhalf of choice to replace injured superstar Dan Carter at the Rugby World Cup after Sunday's win over Canada, saying "Colin Slade's the boy!"

Slade was ushered reluctantly into the spotlight when he took the field in the No 10 jersey in New Zealand's 79-15 win over Canada, only hours after it was revealed that Carter was out of the tournament with a serious groin injury.

Henry had already tapped the 23-year-old Slade as his preferred backup and sent him onto the field in only his ninth Test match with the tacit challenge of vindicating that faith.

Slade was sound but never spectacular in general play and succeeded with only five of nine goalkicks in a swirling wind. He moved from flyhalf to the wing after 51 minutes and limped from the field in the 64th after tightening up due to his recent lack of game time.

New Zealand rugby fans, still numbed by the loss of Carter, may not yet be convinced Slade is the man to pick up the torch for the tournament's high-pressure knockout rounds. But Henry expressed full confidence in Slade's ability and in the stopgap option provided by scrumhalf Piri Weepu, who finished at flyhalf on Sunday and kicked four goals from four attempts.

"Going forward ... well, Colin Slade's the boy," Henry said. "He played pretty well for a large part of the game today. He just needs more football so the more times we can get him out there the better he's going to be.

"Piri played better the more time he was in the No 10 position and played pretty well in the last 10 minutes of the game when we started to respect the weather conditions and started to put the ball behind the opposition and play with a bit of balance."

Henry admitted some reservations about Slade's goalkicking success rate but again highlighted the option provided by Weepu, both as a tactical substitute at flyhalf and as a proxy goalkicker if the first option fails.

"As I said before, we see Colin as the guy to play," Henry said. "It's good to see the two guys who played 10 today carry the position pretty well. Piri hasn't played there a lot ... so there's advancement going on which is great.

"We'd like to see (Slade) kick them all (goals) but we've got two guys out there who can kick goals and if Piri plays (scrumhalf) he can kick goals too. And he's probably the more consistent goalkicker at this level, simply because he's played a lot more Test football."

Henry reiterated his sympathy for Carter who entered the tournament regarded as the world's best flyhalf and now leaves with his job only partly done.

"It's a tragedy, really," Henry said. "I just feel for this young fellow.

"He's been 10 years building up to this World Cup probably. It probably wasn't in his vision 10 years ago but certainly over the last few years, and it was a big stage for him ... 29, at the peak of his powers and that's been taken away from him.

"It's very sad and I feel a great deal of sympathy for him. He's handled it, as he always does, with character. He's obviously hugely disappointed but he's handled it very well, he's got huge support."

Henry also applauded the performance of winger Zac Guildford, who scored four tries on Sunday in his first appearance at the World Cup. Guildford was forced to appear at a news conference two weeks ago to admit breaches of the New Zealand team's alcohol policy.

"He played particularly well because he's had a number of challenges but he's been outstanding in the group," Henry said. "The guys we don't pick in the (match) 22 we call the standard-setters and he's set very good standards over the last four weeks and he's trained particularly hard and well and that was reflected in the way he played tonight."


  • BardofAvon - 2011-10-02 14:24

    Nice piece of choking - picking Slade ahead of Weepu.

      Johan van Zyl - 2011-10-02 15:39

      All I can say to NZ is this: four more years mate, four more years!

      Shakes - 2011-10-03 08:20

      Ja, Slade just looks inexperienced and made some telling errors but NZ still have a practice game against Argentina in quarters. Pity about Carter and Steyn, two great players. Hope they recover well enough to continue their careers.

  • brett.macdonald1 - 2011-10-02 14:25

    Why these New Zealanders worrying so much about losing Carter? We lost THREE Carters in Francois Steyn!! Bloody drama queens!

      wood - 2011-10-02 14:33

      FrancoisSteyn = 3 Carters.Only if you were doing a weight comparison.

      brett.macdonald1 - 2011-10-02 14:48

      Dan Carter is a flyhalf- a good one at that- but just a flyhalf. Francois Steyn can play any position from 10 to 15. He can kick penalties and drop goals from over 60m (a vital ability in world cup rugby) and in general ply he has that X-Factor. Maybe you're right wood- maybe he has three times the weight of Carter in tackling and defending too!

      Maori - 2011-10-02 15:56

      Frans Steyn is a kid comparing to DC - ask anyone in the rugby world who DC is and you will get the answer. Ask the same person who Frans Steyn is and you get blank stares!!! Go ALL BLACKS!!

      brett.macdonald1 - 2011-10-02 16:26

      Maori, Daniel Carter is a media darling. He gets a lot of attention, models underwear and has the same appeal as Justin Bieber!!

      Thomas - 2011-10-02 21:56

      Might be a bit off the mark considering Dan Carter has scored more than twice the points against SA than any Sprinbok has scored against NZ

      StBad - 2011-10-03 07:06

      Come on okes, I've always enjoyed Steyn as a player but Carter is probably one of the top 5 rugby players ever to play the game (I'm not really a fan but can appreciate what he does for a NZ backline). And the versatility factor of Steyn isn't necessarily a plus... it never has been!

  • Ockie - 2011-10-02 14:42

    Losing Carter is bad news for AB and good news for all other contenders. The AB is not the same team without Carter + McCaw.

      brett.macdonald1 - 2011-10-02 14:50

      Actually without those two players they're hardly a team at all..

      Maori - 2011-10-02 15:58

      Typical saffa mentality - prefer the easier route like in 2007 ( backing Italy to win Irealnd) celebatre injuries to key players to opposition teams - I think you girls are in for a nasty surprise. Go ALL BLACKS!!

      brett.macdonald1 - 2011-10-02 16:32

      Maori, you sound like you've been smoking some New Zealand mountain cabbage! We don't choose the routes to world cup victory, we simply beat all the teams before us. You'd battle to understand this as the last time the All Blacks accomplished this was in 1987- and not facing the Springboks. In this year's tournament the Springboks again have the easier route- by beating the Wallabies and the All Blacks who would be beaten by Wales and Ireland on current form… Have another drag my man.

      oomtas - 2011-10-02 20:17

      maori se woordeskat is so klein soos sy weener....saffa mentallity saffa mentallity..kom by retard

      Phillip Carlisle - 2011-10-02 21:00

      @ m, shocking English, standard grade? "win Ireland"? True colours...

      Mickey Fin - 2011-10-02 22:06

      @ brett.macdonald1. So sick of you Saffa's always chirping about how the All Blacks won without facing SA. Well you won in 2007 without facing Australia or the All Blacks. Now, both stand in your way to an easy final, so time to stop being a typical arrogant Saffa and let the real games begin. Hope S A beats the Wallabies, only because I want to see the All Blacks kick your arses out of the competition once and for all, but I seriously doubt the Protea’s can beat the Wallabies. Hope to see all the excuses come Monday morning. You know about the "forward pass' the "bad ref" and the whole "conspiracy" against S A rugby!!! You guys are so predictable it is scary!!

      Magmansa - 2011-10-03 05:32

      @ Mickey No one said they won it in 87 without facing the Boks. They said they won it without the boks being in the tournament. In 2007 both Aus and NZ were there, and guess what?? They both did not have it in them to make the finals. P.S if u so sick of us then bugger off our sites.....

      brett.macdonald1 - 2011-10-03 09:57

      @Mickey, if you're sick of it, well, get used to it. The early exit of the All Blacks and Wallabies was an embrassment to Tr-Nations rugby! Thank heavens the Springboks went ahead and won the competition to salvage pride for all three nations- be grateful! The reason that the All Blacks come undone in every world cup is because in a world cupn McCaw and co don't get away with their blatant cheating. They have become so complacent in their cheating nature that it forms the backbone of their gameplan, then when they can't cheat when the reffing has to be stricy, they suddenly can't play... Now take Carter and McCaw out of their team and suddenly the All Black are a very mediocre outfit that could be easily beaten by Waqles or Ireland on current form.

  • Zane Daniels - 2011-10-02 15:21

    Carter is one man not a team all blacks will just play better to make up for it like did against Canada

  • Maori - 2011-10-02 15:55

    Well done Coach! Backing Slade will do good for his confidence - had a solid outfit against a gutsy Canada - we will do the job with what we have - the proteas are celebrating DC's injury, shows the low levels of moral fibre! Cruded not fit for this level yet - Weepu will be the suitable back up - we need to start with Piri on 9 and Slade on 10, give goal kicking duties to Piri and bring Cowan later on to replace Piri who will move to 10. Go ALL BLACKS!!

      macrini - 2011-10-02 16:04

      Good call, I agree, with slight differences. If Weepu is to back up, Henry will need to commit him at that position i.e. let him concentrate on being a 1st-five. I also think Cruden could handle the situation if he were to get the call up. I'm certain fringe players, like Cruden etc. would have been kept in the loop during the campaign. I daresay he will get a run against Argentina. Cue thumbs down from Bok fans.

      Maori - 2011-10-02 16:13

      @Macrini - I don't like playing guys out of position but what do you think about Dagg on 10? Attacking mind, defensively solid and has the X-factor - goalkicking is my only concern with Slade.

      oomtas - 2011-10-02 20:22

      groin injuries.....well thats what happens when u hump sheep. Go SHEEPSHAGGERS ag i mean ALL BLACKS!

      macrini - 2011-10-03 00:38

      At least we do the shagging. The African safari animals must have a ripper time shagging you Oomtas. @Maori: IMO, perhaps one day (he has played there for the highlanders I believe), but not at this late stage of the cup. Whoever Henry picks has my support 100 %. Kia kaha nga toa o te Kapa o Pango! Bleh!

      Andrew - 2011-10-03 03:50

      No point speaking in Maori to "maori", he's never been to New Zealand.

      Magmansa - 2011-10-03 05:37

      Kia Ora Maori hoe gaan dit? I think the AB's have no choice no but to stick to Slade. Daggs so good he could probably play any position!! But as mac said its to late in the tourny for him to be tried at flyhalf.

  • cupid - 2011-10-02 16:14

    no Aaron Cruden?. I knew Henry was having a secret affair with Slade. He will never leave his little boy out regardless how crap he play.

  • wood - 2011-10-02 17:51

    Brett, IMHO Steyn is a slow plodder with a big boot.He couldn´t make an outside break,sidedstep an opponent if you paid him.I am not a great fan of the Boks backline except defensively but frankly I cannot think of one of them who should give up his place for Steyn

      brett.macdonald1 - 2011-10-02 18:25

      I think that his versatility has worked against him in that he has been shunted around so many positions.

  • Alan - 2011-10-02 18:27

    @ Maori, and how many world cup medals does DC have and how many does young Fransie have? Maybe irb and all black media can pump up DC in a chocking all black outfit but in real rugby terms I'll take frans Steyn any time in my team over DC and so would many many others who actually know a thing or two about the game. DC only operates when his pack are going forward through biased ref who allows illegal scum tatics by the all chokes.

      Mickey Fin - 2011-10-02 22:19

      @Alan. Read your comments again and concentrate! You will then also see what a load of crap you have just written. You take arrogance to the next level. But please promise me you will be commenting come Monday next week. I always enjoy the comments from you bunch of arrogant Saffs's about "biased refs" and "illegal scrum tactics". You clever people have actually caught us all out. It has been a world conspiracy to make the All Blacks world champs and only minor hiccups along the way has prevented this from happening every four years!!!!

  • Barry Edwards - 2011-10-02 19:12

    What else could Henry do other than back Slade ?

  • elviscowboy - 2011-10-02 22:48

    I'm a Kiwi and I enjoy visiting this site to see what South Africans are thinking about the Rugby World Cup and the Super 15. I find it really embarrassing to see other Kiwis posting their opinions on a South African web-site. Everyone's entitled to his or her opinion, but the Kiwi's posts tend to be smug and cringe-worthy. You don't visit someone else's house to taunt them.

      Ockie - 2011-10-03 07:24

      elviscowby our SA supporters have no problem with some of your Kiwi guys commenting smug on our website. We also have our own idiots. That's live ... but we are still proud SA supporters and we recognise a proud and very good AB team at present.

      InternetMan - 2011-10-03 09:09

      They aren't kiwis. They are capetonians with no pride. Or teeth.

  • gc - 2011-10-03 09:29

    @ Maori did'nt we speak about this scenario not to long ago? DC is the best player to put on rugby boots, that we know. THe question reamins, can the ABs function without him? I think Greame Henry's sins are catching up to him. The one geat sin he commited was taking DC on their end of year tour at the end of 2010. He missed a great oppertunity to ween a proper backup fly- half. I see everyone tips NZ by 50 in the qf's. I'm not so sure...If you think SA vs Samoa was physical, I get a feeling u'r in for suprise. With DC there they would be able to weather the storm, but the question remains if Mr Slade can cope with emotionally charged latin dudes with a point to prove. ITs one thing to play when there acres pof space provided, its another thing to create that space inorder for the team to generate go forward. Greame Henry has missed a trick and he is gonna pay for it sooner rather thatn later.

  • Jacques - 2011-10-03 12:25

    Hating the fact that DC is injured- I'm not an AB fan, but the guy is awesome! It just seems as though the cracks are appearing in the AB setup? Henry ''admitting resrvations'' to Slade's goalkicking, this whole ''flyhalf swopping/inexperienced starting no10'' is sounding like they themselves are unsure about this vital position. Maybe Henry is trying to convince himself more than anyone else that Slade is ''the man going forward''. Can't wait to see the AB's crashing out- it's gonna be a jol!

  • JT - 2011-10-03 21:44

    Graham Henry is the only person in the world who thinks Slade is better than Cruden. He's too stubborn to change his mind, and too arrogant to admit that Cruden should've been the replacement all along - which will cost them the World Cup. Cruden's ITM Cup season should have earned him selection in the first place, he was the best player in the tournament.

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