Hard way back for frozen out All Blacks
Sunday News | Sunday, 23 December 2007
Hard way back for frozen out All Blacks - Rugby news & coverage - Stuff.co.nz

It wasn't just Robbie Deans who was disappointed when Graham Henry kept his job as All Blacks coach.

For a number of players, a new selection panel could have been their way back into black jerseys.

All Blacks greats Murray Mexted and Frank Bunce give their views on the chances of 10 players frozen out by Henry getting back into the All Blacks in 2008.


Played the last of his 20 tests in July.

"He's got as good a chance as any but you do hear all the rumours and you never know what went on between him and Graham Henry, whether it's an onfield issue or not. Having lost Byron Kelleher and with Brendon Leonard not really firing, there's an opportunity there for him."

Odds of getting back in black: $2


Played the last of his nine tests in September

"I'm not too sure of Jimmy. I think Piri's in with more of a chance than Jimmy unless he changes his game and goes back to more of a running style. He might have done his time. All the talk was the coaches wanted him to run more. It's also going to be harder for Jimmy to stand out because he'll play for the Highlanders who haven't performed well for a long time now. The Hurricanes should go well next year and it's a lot easier to shine in a team that's going forward than one that isn't."

Odds: $5


Played the last of his 18 tests in June

"Ma'a has still got the same problems where he's a little bit loose at times and has that discipline problem. But we've lost Aaron Mauger and Luke McAlister, while Conrad Smith didn't fire at the World Cup. So we're a little bit light in terms of midfielders. Right now, I'm not sure what Ma'a's best position is but I see him as a guy who's going to develop and he'll be a better 13 when he gets older."

Odds: $1.50


Played one test in June 2005

"We have lost a few players but Anesi hasn't really kicked on and you kind of feel that he's fallen out of favour a bit with everyone. The fact Doug Howlett has gone may provide an opening but, for me, he doesn't set the world on fire."

Odds: $10


Played the last of his two tests in July 2006

"I'd like to see him back in the All Blacks. He could take over the role Doug Howlett had in the team. He's not a Josevata Rokocoko or Sitiveni Sivivatu but he's got all the skills and chases everything. I'm a big fan of Hamilton. He never lets you down, while some of the Fijian boys are prone to losing form every now and then."

Odds: $3.50


Played the last of his two tests in June 2006

"Jerome's is an athlete and he's also a good No 8. He's definitely got the athletic prowess and the anticipation to be a world class No 8. He's had a promising career but he's never quite cemented himself, probably because he went very quickly from the Under-21 team to the All Blacks side and hadn't played a lot of Super 14 before that. It's probably done him a lot of good to refocus on developing his all-round abilities at No 8 at the highest level. I would expect him to be a very serious challenger next year."

Odds: $2.30


Played the last of his 22 tests in June

"I'm an advocate of the Troy Flavell factor. He's got a hard edge to his game more akin to a past era. But it's an edge that I think every major international side needs and now he's proved to be a leader. With the laws of the games changing now, he becomes a very serious prospect at lock, I always thought he was quick but wasn't quite big enough at lock. With the new laws he may end up being the perfect player for one of those two locking positions."

Odds: $1.01


Played the last of his three tests in June

"He's similar to Troy Flavell but doesn't quite have the experience. But he does have athleticism and the same applies for him as it does with Troy but he is one step behind him."

Odds: $5


Played the last of his nine tests in June 2006

"He's got all the physique and athleticism like Kaino but he needs more consistency in his performance and I've always thought that. I would have thought that with the period of time he's had in the All Blacks that would have given him the opportunity to develop some mental toughness to play at his best every time. And he really has to do that before he makes it back."

Odds: $7


Played the last of his five tests in August 2002

"There's nothing separating Tom and Corey Flynn. They're both terrific players and they're both leaders. I would say they're both serious contenders for next year. Whoever you're playing against will determine which one you want. Keven Mealamu is excellent so Tom is battling it out with Corey and Andrew Hore."

Odds: $4