327. Blow, blow, thou winter wind

The Hurricanes start the sharp end of their season this weekend, at home against the Waratahs. (Everybody note the 4,30pm kick-off!)

They’re 7 and 0 going into this weekend, and six points clear at the top of the ladder. But they’ve had both their byes, and look at this for the run home:

10. Waratahs (home)

11. Reds (away)

12. Crusaders (home)

13. Sharks (home)

14. Chiefs (home)

15. Blues (away)

16. Crusaders (away)

17. Highlanders (home)

18. Chiefs (away)

Six of the nine remaining matches are against New Zealand teams, including home and away doubles against the Crusaders and the Chiefs. Ouch.

All of the teams (bar the Rubbish Reds and the Blundering Blues) are fighting for their post-season lives. And even the Reds and the Blues, playing for pride and test selections, will cause upsets along the way.

What to do? More of the same. Much more, and more again. Resolute defence. Discipline to keep all your players on the field all of the time, and not give away penalties in your own half. Patience with the ball in hand, and plenty of daring to counter-attack from deep. Grunt from the tight five, and plenty more stealing at the breakdown by Ardie Savea and Reggie Goodes.

And no injuries.

Right, that’s sorted then.

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.

William Shakespeare, As You Like It

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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2 Responses to 327. Blow, blow, thou winter wind

  1. Ben (BJ) Jansen says:

    Dear Ned,

    3 recently retired rugby players got together with one bottle of scotch and came up with our midseason All Blacks list as below:

    1 – Charlie Faumuina (can play both sides of the scrum, and is 130kg) > Tony Woodcock (World Cup Final Try Scorer > Ben Franks. 2 – Dane Coles (a bit quicker on his feet than Kev) > Kevin Mealamu > Hikauera Elliot. 3 – Owen Franks (he can squat 240kg) > Jaime McIntosh (has improved his game and is now not giving away 3 to 4 penalties like Wyatt Crockett) > Joe Moody.

    4 – Brodie Rettlick (world player of the year) > Sam Whitelock. 5 – Jeremy Thrush (VC Hurricanes) > Patrick Tuipuloto (6’6 120kg).

    6 – Jerome Kaino > Liam Messum. 7 – Richard McCaw (still the king) > Sam Cane. 8 – Kieren Reid (previous world player of the year) > Steven Luatua (bigger and breaks more tackles than Victor Vito).

    9 – Aaron Smith (38 tests, 11 tries) > TJ Perenara (11 tests, 1 try). 10 – Beaden Barrett (fastest first five out there, and can kick goals) > Colin Slade (quick and primarily a goal kicker) > Aaron Cruden (has been missing kicks) > Dan Carter (out of form at the moment).

    11 – Julian Savea (a weapon of mass destruction) > James Lowe (have you seen how fast this boy is, oh and have you seen his boot?). 12 – Ma’a Nonu (ability to play above his weight in a test match) > Sonny Bill Wiliams > Ryan Crotty. 13 – Conrad Smith (85 test caps… at centre) > Malakai Fekitoa (ball hungry). 14 – Corey Jane (53 tests, 18 tries, the hands of God) > Charles Piatau. 15 – Ben Smith (averages 3 broken tackles per touch of the ball) > Nehe Milner-Skudder (the bolter with a step off each foot).

    The scotch was Johnny Red Label for reference.

    Bj

    • Ned Davy says:

      Mr J. Walker Esq was clearly the Chairman of Selectors. The problem with Mr Walker is his enthusiasm for the matter at hand can carry away the finer points of judgment.

      Mcintosh? Not happening. For my money, have a close look at young Reggie Goodes. He’s not as big as some, but he’s holding up his side of the scrum really well, and he’s pinching loads of ball at the breakdown. He could be a bolter in, say, the Samoa test squad. Hika Elliot’s lineout throwing is a problem, even if his facial hair is tops.

      I also doubt that Piutau will get the call. Partly that’s the problem of playing for the Blues where he’s not getting the chances to shine. Add in his decision to go overseas, and Grumpy Shag might give him the miss.

      Lowe is good, yes: fast, strong, courageous and, as you say, a mighty boot to get you out of trouble. Cory Jane probably misses the cut, just, for the World Cup squad if you have to have room for Ben Smith and Israel Dagg.

      SBW? Yes in the squad, but you don’t start him ahead of Nonu, which means it comes down to the balance on the bench. Fekitoa and Crotty in the wider squad, but they’ll struggle to make the big game day selections if everyone else is fit. Slade gets the tick for covering first-five and fullback, which lets SBW cover 12 and 13.

      Cover for 7? Cane yes, and then think carefully about Ardie Savea. Matt Todd unlucky again.

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