It’s been a long time since we won the Rugby World Cup. A very long time. Here is my guess at the likely team to be selected. Not the team I’d want ncessarily, but the team I think will get picked. It’s the same team Michael Brown selected for APNZ:
- Backs: Jimmy Cowan, Andy Ellis, Piri Weepu, Dan Carter, Colin Slade, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Richard Kahui, Isaia Toeava, Cory Jane, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Mils Muliaina, Israel Dagg.
- Forwards: Corey Flynn, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu, John Afoa, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Tony Woodcock, Anthony Boric, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Ali Williams, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Adam Thomson, Victor Vito.
I still think it is a mistake to pick Ali Williams. Maybe he will peak in time. Just look at the stats from the game in Sth Africa this last weekend:
It took six minutes of this game before Ali Williams hit his first ruck, and he was immediately penalised for going off his feet resulting in the first three points to the Boks. He didn’t hit another ruck until the 18 minute mark. Overall he had the least ruck arrivals of any of the starting pack, and in the first half was even eclipsed by Sonny Bill Williams, Richard Kahui and Hosea Gear for workrate at the breakdown.
Colin Slade will shine if he can get faster ball. Jimmy Cowan’s ball distribution is just too slow – or at least was against Sth Africa. Two steps and a pass won’t work against a team advancing that quickly. He needs to tidy up his goal kicking but will do well.
Adam Thomson is impressive but can’t concede penalties like he did against Sth Africa – by accounting for 40% of the All Blacks penalties on the weekend he became a real problem and slowed the teams momentum.
I feel for Gear and Guildford. Both could make any other team. And injuries could still see them in.