What is wrong with picking your best XV?
Since John Eales held aloft the World Cup in 1999, New Zealand fans have been advised that whilst Bledisloe Cups and Tri-Nations trophies look nice on the mantelpiece, they are scarcely worth mentioning when a World Cup is in the offing every four years.
Hence, the old ways of picking a best 15 and sticking to it are long gone.
Instead, we have more one-Test All Blacks around the place than there are civil servants in Wellington, as Messers Mitchell and Henry have attempted to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Test after Test sees a new centre here, a different front row there, a youthful fullback thrust into the fray, or a top player allowed to “take a sabbatical”, to allow him to play croquet and Greco-Roman wrestle for six months of the year, instead of playing rugby.
This allows the powers that be, to try “different combinations” in an attempt to provide themselves with an insurance policy during the World Cup tournament.
This should mean that if McCaw and Carter suffer a clash of heads in the opening minute of the final and are unable to take further part in the fixture, two skilled, qualified and fully tested replacements are ready and able to replace these Goliaths of the game and play just as well, or almost as well, as their first-choice colleagues.
Coaches now have a full 3.9 years available to them to find a first XV for the World Cup tournament, as well as a further 11 who can be called upon at any time to do a similar job to those chosen ahead of them.
This, on the face of it makes sense, if the World Cup is so important.
Now we come to the beginning of the illustrious tournament and what do we see?
Mr Henry is still under the impression that the tournament is many months away, or he would appear to be.
Or maybe, he just can’t select the same team in consecutive weeks, for fear of catching bubonic plague or some such, since he has once again elected to “try some different combinations” and “give some players needed time on the field”, instead of picking his best team and sticking to it for a less than grueling maximum of seven fixtures in seven weeks.
Hence, instead of scintillating rugby against the minnows, building up to top form for the knockout stages, we are likely to see the same problems of old, of ‘rustiness’, ‘combinations not jelling’ and so on.
Surely having your best team on the field, wherever possible, during the tournament is the correct policy?
If not, why have the preceding 3.9 years of chopping and changing been allowed to continue?
Sport, all day long. Does this sound too good to be true? We're searching for a Group Sales Manager to lead our team in Sydney. If you're a sales star who doesn't mind a hit, kick, throw, or cycle, we want to hear from you. Apply now.