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The All Blacks are still angry

The All Blacks are number one but England are advancing slowly. (AFP PHOTO / MARTY MELVILLE)
Roar Guru
21st October, 2013
61
4334 Reads

The All Blacks, that is. Angry at that little John Eales led insurrection of a few years back, and, like Kitchener retaking the Sudan, it has been an execution, not a battle, ever since.

Of course Kitchener had the good grace to rebuild the Sudan after crushing it but I suppose that would be asking a bit too much of the New Zealand Rugby Union in this professional era.

Instead we’re going to have to rely upon the craftsmanship of Ewen Mckenzie to make something of this mess. The early fortification of Quade Cooper’s international career under McKenzie has certainly been impressive and a great example of a coach coaching what’s in front of him.

As a coach, McKenzie appears to be more leader than manager; focusing on eliciting the greatness already in his players rather than trying to force his greatness upon them.

Quade has had a lot of potential since his early days; potential great, potential liability.

There is a further duality of nature in the playmaking flyhalf that isn’t suffered by the one dimensional, kicking type. Quade’s natural passing game makes him depend upon combinations and to focus on bringing out the best in his team mates while his creative side is all about him and his need for recognition.

Too much creative and he’s aloof, insular and arrogant. Too much everyone else and he is disarmed, flighty and petulant.

Tackling appears to be the barometer of Quade’s balance and while we don’t need him to be destroying O’Driscolls like Nathan Grey, the confident display of defence he gave last week was heartening.

With Will Genia now back (Nic White having completed his cameo as the ghost of Chris Whitaker’s past) there are fewer imbalances remaining in the Wallabies, although fewer than a lot is still too many.

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If James Horwill is going to surrender his captaincy, as he appears to be slowly doing, he needs to bring back a bit of the inner dervish that defined his earlier, niggly years. The lack of leadership has created a niche for Ben Mowen that allows Mowen’s under powered play to be offset by his capacity for captaincy.

Israel Folau has made the transition to amateur era rugby star perfectly with his engaging attack and ineffectual defence. It is amusing that the player most clearly aware of the benefits of professional sports is the one who most needs to be reminded of the realities of the professional era.

I’m sure that new bloke to The Roar with all the wiz-bang videos and high faluting facts will shine a clearer light on it one day but my beer-bloated gut feel is that Israel’s positioning at fullback is a little shy of the full Matt Burke model.

As the Ballymore Hill once called to Wendell Sailor, it may be time for Izzy to start paying the rent.

Then again, I always took comment from the Hill with a grain of salt.