Are the All Blacks’ coaching staff gradually becoming susceptible to undoubtedly unintentional, but nonetheless institutionalised something?
In recent times they have given Vaea Fifita and Ngani Laumape time out of the squad and slipped each a note with a list of work-ons into their blazer pockets. Put out to NPC pasture, so to speak (in the case of Fifita at least).
Remember the case of Charles Piutau? Piutau, along with the two Smiths, was close to, if not the most consistently performing All Black backline member in the lead-up to the 2015 World Cup. Feeling a bit cast aside when told he had quite a few things to improve on, he then signed a contract with Ulster for 2016. Little doubt because he guessed his number might be up. Then surprise, surprise, no place was found for him among the whole World Cup squad. Which was a bit of a travesty, all said and done. It could well be I’m way off the mark with this particular assumption, but I remember this episode leaving a slightly sour taste.
On Saturday night, Jack Goodhue, very good player though he is, showed at Eden Park that he is not quite yet the finished product. It will be interesting as to whether Goodhue will be allowed to remain with the All Black squad and fix his deficiencies from within. Because frankly, it’s beginning to look a bit lopsided one particular way about who they let go from the squad with a flea in their ear.
And what of the claptrap that emanates from even some of our greats about how some kinds of players are ‘smarter’ than others? Again, no doubt unintentional, but horribly stereo-typical. Most reading this will know exactly what I mean.
(Even my close friends might say I’m being a grumpy, middle-aged f#@* in saying such things. Especially on the heels of such a great ABs performance as Saturday’s absolutely was. But I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t).