Graham Henry’s selection headache

With the Super 14 winding down from yet another action-packed journey fueled with explosive tries and bone-crunching tackles along with the usual rollercoaster ride of emotions, it’s interesting to see which players benefited the most from this box-office production.

There’s was no denying that 2007 would bring out the best (and on some occasions the worst!) in the players with the Rugby World Cup just months away from kick-off.

The Super 14 is a time when New Zealand, Australia and South Africa’s national coaches have time to view their players performances and put a tick or a cross next to their name on the possible and probable list.

But selection is a cruel weapon that can be used to either kill off a player’s chances or protect them from being dropped.

How unfortunate it must be for a player to put in a 110 per cent effort game after game, knowing all too well that his efforts are being overlooked because the top brass have already made their ‘list’.

It’s almost like reliving Christmas as a toddler, not knowing if Santa Clause was going to find out if you were naughty or nice – one wonders if Graham Henry has checked his list twice!

The ‘rested’ All Blacks are a prime example of an uncapped player facing a tough road to make selection for the upcoming warm-up Tests before the World Cup, Tri-Nations and the Rugby World Cup itself.

But it’s not fair pointing a finger at Graham Henry’s ‘reconditioning programme’ on his star players. If Australia’s John Connolly or South Africa’s Jake White could do the same – they would.


If anything, Henry just made it public who he plans to have in his squad, while Connolly and White would have had the same number of players or more in their head – even before the Super 14 kicked off!

However, there’s always an outside chance of going against the odds and making the cut – we have a look at who has been causing the New Zealand national selectors some sleepless nights and who have a chance of getting an early Christmas present…

The defending Tri-Nations champs take on France in two warm-up Tests as well as Canada before kicking off their Tri-Nations campaign.

Twenty-two All Blacks were rested and came back midway through the Super 14 bigger, stronger and faster than ever… but who has been keeping these Kiwi giants on their toes?


Probably the toughest position to crack if your name isn’t Carl Hayman, Tony Woodcock or Greg Somerville. These three have been in outstanding form for a while now and will take a big effort for a player challenging for these spots to push these blokes out of their position.

Challengers: John Afoa has shown he’s certainly no push-over for the Blues in nearly every game he’s played for them so far in the competition. He’s no stranger to the Black jersey either and will be unlucky not to get another call-up. Another player who has another chance of causing a serious tighthead amongst the propping ranks is the Hurricanes’ Neemia Tialata. Tialata played in New Zealand’s last game of their European tour against Wales and will be hoping to have done enough to catch another plane to France. Whilst Clarke Dermody of the Highlanders is another one of the front row forwards that is leaving his mark on the tournament in a big way. A shame that he will be departing for greener pastures with Guinness Premiership club London Irish later this year. New Zealand’s loss, the Exiles gain!

Worthy mentions: Campbell Johnston and Wyatt Crocket (both Crusaders)


Kevin Mealamu and Anton Oliver have been battling it out for the number two jersey for a while now. It’s fair to say that Mealamu has won the selector’s votes more so than Oliver, but who has been keeping these two on their toes?

Challengers: Cory Flynn has put in one big performance after another for the Crusader

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.