What does an All Blacks cap mean these days?
Lima Sopoaga recently came out and said the allure wasn’t quite there any more. We know that’s mostly to do with the huge salaries on offer abroad, but the selectors are continuing to almost trivialise the whole All Blacks’ legacy by choosing players who in some cases will be lucky to even take the field on the upcoming northern tour. Not to mention some also requiring a Google search from a good few of the NZ Rugby public. These inflated squads are most definitely taking away a bit of the mana attached to first making it as an All Black. God only knows what Colin Meads would think were he still with us. Rugby has evolved, we are all smart enough to know that, but this is all getting just a bit stark raving mad.
Yes, it is a fact there is depth to be trialled and tested in respect of a potential World Cup three-peat next year- lest we all forget- you will only be reminded of it about 238 times before World Cup time next year. And yes, Steve Hansen will proclaim that we’d all bitch and moan if they didn’t have every position and associated eventuality covered three times deep before the great show begins next year in Japan. But fifty-one players for a five-match tour? Good grief, Charlie Brown. It’s just as well they aren’t adding on a match in Spain. Because they’d likely be about sixty-six going, based on current thinking.
We’ve also come to learn through quite a few of their selections over recent seasons that Super Rugby form counts for not much really. A case in point- Ben Lam. How was he feeling when he saw names like Brett Cameron in the squad? Because it’s AIG and Adidas dollars to doughnuts that if Lam were a Crusader and he’d had the Super Rugby season he had this year, that he would more than likely have made it. Don’t think for a second that this point reeks of anti-Cantabrianism- if Lam had been a player in the Auckland team of the mid 80s to the mid 90s he’d have breezed in as well. Perception almost always lauds it over reality.
Martin Devlin has more than once said that he can’t bring himself to put on an All Blacks’ replica jersey, as only selected All Blacks alone should have the chance to wear the fabled shirt. But he needn’t fret. Because there’s every chance with the way they are being handed out at the moment, that you, I, Martin Devlin, or even his cat, may soon be in line for a shot at the squad.
Due to this profligacy, you can be almost certain that talkback types will call up Radio Sport to feast on the Carcass de All Black should they go ahead and lose a couple of these encounters. And with some good reason too, it might be said.