149. It’s Not Easy Being Black

Only with the All Blacks would you kick the winning goal on Saturday night, and then on Monday be left out of the touring party.

On the one hand, poor old Colin Slade. Number four in the pecking order of first-fives means that he has to take his occasional chances: Dan injured and Aaron in the dog box gets him a seat on the bench. Come on as a substitute, kick a goal, then go to the beach for the summer.

On the other hand, lucky young Colin Slade. He’s played 15 more tests than I have, and he’s every chance to play at the World Cup.

The squad for the Northern tour has plenty of such rough economics: Vito gets another chance, while Luatua gets sent to the gym.  Augustine Pulu gets to tour after Kerr-Barlow’s ugly injury.  Luke Romano comes back after his injury, Sonny Bill comes back from the thirteen-man game. Blade Thomson must have very nearly made it, but didn’t, with Patrick Tuipuloto holding on by his fingernails.

There are two great things about this harshness: the selectors are not sentimental, and the players take their lumps without grumps. Compare that to other rugby teams, or other sports, or other endeavours.

Discipline and focus.

Forwards

Hookers
Dane Coles (Wellington, 24 Tests)
Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty, 1)
Keven Mealamu (Auckland, 120)

Props
Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury, 33)
Charlie Faumuina (Auckland, 22)
Ben Franks (Hawke’s Bay, 37)
Owen Franks (Canterbury, 63)
Joe Moody (Canterbury, 5)

Locks
Brodie Retallick (Bay of Plenty, 33)
Luke Romano (Canterbury, 16)
Jeremy Thrush (Wellington, 4)
Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland, 5)
Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury, 60)

Loose Forwards
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty, 21)
Jerome Kaino (Auckland, 54)
Richie McCaw – captain (Canterbury, 134)
Liam Messam (Waikato, 35)
Kieran Read (Canterbury, 69)
Victor Vito (Wellington, 24)

Backs

Halfbacks
TJ Perenara (Wellington, 7)
Augustine Pulu (Counties Manukau *)
Aaron Smith (Manawatu, 36)

First five-eighths
Beauden Barrett (Taranaki, 25)
Daniel Carter (Canterbury, 100)
Aaron Cruden (Manawatu, 35)

Midfielders
Ryan Crotty (Canterbury, 9)
Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland, 6)
Conrad Smith (Wellington, 83)
Sonny Bill Williams (Counties Manukau, 19)

Outside backs
Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay, 43)
Cory Jane (Wellington 52)
Charles Piutau (Auckland, 11)
Julian Savea (Wellington, 28)
Ben Smith (Otago, 35)

About Ned Davy

By hokey, the big fella’s tipped into his 50s. A rangy loose forward in his prime, good with the ball in hand, but rarely up with the play any more.
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