Kiwis face selection dilemma

2011-08-17 14:37

Port Elizabeth - New Zealand face some difficult selection issues ahead of the Rugby World Cup with two key areas yet to be resolved less than a week before the All Blacks name their final 30-man squad.

Next Tuesday, the All Blacks will reveal the squad they hope can lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a first time since 1987 and Saturday's Tri-Nations Test against South Africa represents the last chance for several fringe players to impress.

"Everyone in our squad is in contention, but we can only pick 30 and some areas are difficult in terms of selection, particularly the back three and the loose forwards," assistant coach Steve Hansen told reporters on Wednesday.

New Zealand have started the season well with wins over Fiji, South Africa and Australia but now face a dilemma over which six players will fill the winger and full back positions for the hosts at the September 9-October 23 tournament.

"All our back three have come into excellent form at the same time but you can't fit nine into six, so three guys are going to have to miss out, which is tremendously sad," Hansen added at the Port Elizabeth news conference.

"There are some dead-set certainties and we all know who they are, but for the others, we have to get the mix right, players that will suit the tournament.

"The loose forwards fall into that area and the back three, but it's not a bad problem to have."

The All Blacks forward coach did, however, give hope to the players who do not make the initial 30-man squad, saying there could still be chances for them to play in the World Cup.

"I just hope that once they are over the initial disappointment they will keep working hard because there will be opportunities once the World Cup starts due to injuries," the former Wales coach added.

New Zealand have left seven frontline players behind for the South Africa leg of the Tri-Nations but Hansen said the current squad had easily adapted to the absence of senior figures such as regular captain Richie McCaw and flyhalf Dan Carter.

"There are a lot of senior guys that are here and it's been an easy transformation thanks to the leadership of guys like Keven Mealamu and Andrew Hore," Hansen said.

"It's been a great week so far and they've prepared as well as any team has over the last year. If we continue in that vein, then we'll be in good shape."

South Africa started the Tri-Nations with a 39-20 loss in Australia and a 40-7 thrashing in New Zealand, and despite fielding a stronger side in a 14-9 defeat to the Wallabies last week, Hansen believes the Springboks are improving.

"I don't think you can take into account the first two Tests because that wasn't this team playing," he added.

"They decided to rest these guys, rightfully after such a bruising Super rugby competition, and although they looked short of a gallop last week, they're progressing well.

"They have run their own course and good on them. The World Cup is the most important thing this year and they decided early on that the Tri-Nations was not for them.

"They're now seeing if certain guys can fit in around their more senior players. South Africa are one of the best teams in the world and they will contend in the final stages of the World Cup.

"If they have a bit of luck and play well, then they could go all the way."


  • jk - 2011-08-17 14:45

    you think you got problems... come and have a look at snorre's delemas and pine pienaar, thats a whole lot of problems hansen

      Chief Kok - 2011-08-17 15:00

      And WP's cupless dillema

      jk - 2011-08-17 15:02

      KOK- true

      Bellakanoose - 2011-08-17 15:44

      They can have Habana....

      jk - 2011-08-17 15:55

      irak wont want habana

  • Raka13 - 2011-08-17 14:47

    If South Africa only had a selection dillema, we have structure, game plan and a basic skills problem

      jk - 2011-08-17 14:49

      but NZ doesnt have the snorre us from loosing against wallis

      flat bier - 2011-08-17 17:09

      Maybe NZ must get their government to select their squad just like the republic.

  • Chief Kok - 2011-08-17 14:59

    Heading should read: Kiwis face selection luxury

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-08-17 15:03

      @Kok - it is not always a luxury my friend. (As you chaps well know by this time).........selections in 2003 and 2007 were the downfall of the AB's were they not? Making space for certain players, leaving others out etc. My fave Graham Henry quote of all time was the one in 2007 where he said he had 2 teams that could win the World Cup. (In hindsight, maybe he should have stuck to the players from 1 of his world class teams - instead of wishing and washing about?) He should stick pretty much to the starting 15 that beat the Wobblies I reckon - regardless of how well Dagg, SBW, Ice etc perform.....

      jk - 2011-08-17 15:04

      kokkie- learn from the stormers in certian positions, it can also be a burden

      Chief Kok - 2011-08-17 15:06

      Actually is a dillema. I really don't want anyone to miss out. IRB can make an exception to the All Blacks, since we are the world's no 1 team and MUST win this WC, to have more players in our group than the other 2nd rating countries, like SA, AUS and ENG.

      jk - 2011-08-17 15:07

      saffa babe- henry was just 4 years early with his statement, its reality in 2011

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-08-17 15:15

      @Chief Kok - the IRB are so far up the AB's collective @sses, I have no doubt they would approve your request in no time. In fact the IRB would probably decrease the size of all other nation's squads to 20, with a NO replacement clause worked in.

      LuMon - 2011-08-17 15:26

      @Saffa-Cat, it's not often I disagree with your comments... you know your stuff. Who will ever forget the world's greatest fullback being slotted in at centre to accomodate other plays in the team at the 2003 WC... only for Cullen to be fairly ineffective. I can't see them messing it up again but will they pick the correct centres? You can never leave out Conrad Smith if he's fit for a crucial game... but you never know if they'll mess it up. What if Dagg has a blinder and he starts the WC semi... and his inexperience ends up costing them the game. Just throwing it out there.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-08-17 15:37

      @LuMon - I reckon the Kiwis should start with Ma'a and Conrad, if they are tempted to stuff around with that midfield combo, it could come back to chow them!

      Makutu - 2011-08-17 15:40

      The Kiwis were screwed by Umaga retiring prior to 2007. They had to take Mills to center. That was their downfall. And Daniel Carter getting injured didn't do them any favours. Again, I have to agree with Saffa! There is an over-supply ot talent in NZ rugby. They choke because of the over-supply of talent maybe. The coach then needs to just pick his team and stick to it. I like how the ABs don't pick players based on reputation. They pick form players and that works well for them. SA, we still stick with the Danie Russouw, Bucth James, Morne Steyn, and the John Smits of this world even though they are CLEARLY not performing.

      LuMon - 2011-08-17 16:07

      Agreed, SaffaCat. Smith and Nonu...don't get too caught up with the SBW hype. He's a brilliant player but his style may not be test-match suited. Smith is, in my opinion, the most underrated player in the world. With BoD moving on a bit, he is probably the best no. 13 in the world outside of J Fourie, in my opinion. PS: In my example above, I meant Dagg coming for Mils. Not at centre. Although, it wouldn't be the first time NZ have made such a mistake...

      FJ2 - 2011-08-17 17:02

      Agree. Nice problem to have. Surely they wouldn't leave Mils out - I hope not.

      roboman1 - 2011-08-17 19:35

      @Kok, they can have the extra players, the IRB can limit the other squads, they can even have favour from the refs allowing McCaw dubious running lines, slow clearing out the way, off sides play, and off the ball off the NZ TV footage type manouvering, still, cometh the hour cometh the choke. NZ will choke again.

  • Marx - 2011-08-17 15:10

    This is the last chance for the Boks to get something positive going into the WC. Certain AB's are resting, but they have shown, players coming in performs even better than the guys resting. We need to plant that litlle seed of doubt this weekend, or this WC will be very very tough mentally, and that's where it all starts and ends!!

      Raka13 - 2011-08-17 15:27

      Guys, SAFFA and Anneleen, the Boks haven't lost the World Cup yet, in all honesty, and I am not blind for our short comings, but the Boks can still win it. Snorre could've selected far worse players and combinations no?I still have hope for our boys, although not performing well at the moment, we have a bunch of individuals that can play brilliant rugby.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-08-17 15:32

      AGREE @RAKA13 AND MARX. We have what it takes to do well.......(it's no guarantee we WILL do well) but we have what it takes..... I am getting so fed up with the doom and gloom - ernstig. Engeland, Frankryk, Ierland, Wallis se fans is positief almal (en kyk - al 4 van die bogenoemde spanne het maar treurig gelyk in hul warmups sover - maar hulle fans is vol hoop...maar nie ons nie, nee, ons is klaar uit en kan net sowel by die huis bly volgens die majority) Nee wat - ek is nog steeds optimistic.

      jk - 2011-08-17 15:37

      i dissagree, we havnt got what it take anymore, get real people!!!

      BlueSilver - 2011-08-17 16:53

      Stem saam Safa-Cat! Die Bokke het 'n goeie kans! Never say never! Go Bokke!!!

  • Makutu - 2011-08-17 15:25

    There is just too much taent in NZ. Israel Dagg, Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Isaia Toeava, Zac Guilford, Hosea Gear, Richard Kahui, Ma'a Nonu, Sonny Bill-Williams, Conrad Smith, Piri Weepu, Colin Slade, Ben Smith, Jimmy Cowan and DANIEL CARTER! That's a vast list of backline players. South Africa? LOL! We can name ours but we certainly do not match them in potency. Anyways, goodluck to all rugby teams. I just love the sport. One thing, the Blue Bulls backline is the worst I've seen in years!

      Marx - 2011-08-17 15:37

      Remember Goliath??

      FJ2 - 2011-08-17 17:17

      Have to agree that we look stale compared to that lot. What happened? We used to have creative backs during the 60's 70's and 80's who could outthink and outplay everybody. And that's no hallucination - they really were great. Somewhere along the way we didn't just lose the plot, we lost the whole #$%&^# library.

  • Marcus Daily - 2011-08-17 15:41

    Tony Woodcock, John Afoa, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Kevin Mealamu, Andrew Hore, Corey Flynn, Jarrad Hoeata, Brad Thorn, Ali Williams, Sam Whitelock, Adam Thompson, Liam Messam, Richie McCaw, Jerome Kaino, Keiran Reid, Jimmy Cowan, Piri Weepu, Andy Ellis, Dan Carter, Colin Slade, Zac Guilford, Hosea Gear, Cory Jane, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Mills Muliaina, Israel Dagg. (On Stand by Wyatt Crocket, Isaia Toeva, Richard Kahui). Terms and conditions apply, Squad subject to change without warning.

  • Bill - 2011-08-17 16:53

    You can pick whomsoever you like against Dad's Army - they might give you a game for about 40 minutes before they run out os steam and our Coaching Clowns start making haphazard changes to the starting 15.

  • scud - 2011-08-17 16:56

    But NZ have a secret weapon----Peter Div

  • Barry Edwards - 2011-08-17 18:01

    I think what you all are missing here is this match on Saturday means nothing. Its only Tri nations. A big thing...But not in a world cup year !

  • Robert - 2011-08-17 23:05

    Its a real dilema who do we leave out so much talent? Wonder if the IRB could let us play two teams at the moment so we could finish first,and second in this years world cup. I have to say it warmed my heart so much to see all the adoring All Blacks fans at the Airport in South Africa waiting to greet the All Blacks off the plane. The Coloured ,and Black people in South Africa just love our All Black team because they are a united team with different ethnic groups playing in the one team. They arent use to that sort of thing in South Africa.Thank you for becoming our home away from home over there is South Africa. I know our All Blacks really love the support they get over there.

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