By Kevin McCarthy.
Ngani Laumape plays his 50 th match for the Canes this round so its as good a time as any to wonder why he is still seemingly a fringe All Black selection.
Given his consistent form for nigh on two seasons, and this, and his clear talents as a powerful, go-forward second five, it remains a mystery. He remains one of those few players with an X factor that leaves you shaking your head.
I think we know that if Laumape was in red and black, the clamour for him would be deafening. As it is, people are ready to come up with reasons not to pick Laumape, including of course the laughable one-dimensional tag. It even extends to saying he scores soft tries because the opposition are falling off tackles. Well I wonder why that is.
Certainly in his limited All Black matches, which included remember a debut in the difficult losing test against the Lions when we were reduced to 14, he has done no wrong. Now Ryan Crotty is a fine player and is clearly the sort the All Black selectors prefer. I would be
amazed however if he either makes it to the World Cup, or actually survives it, without further concussion issues.
As for the wider midfield mix, is SBW going to be one of those classic selections, based on past glories not the present? He shouldn’t be going unless he puts some serious quality game time in this Super rugby season.
So back to Laumape? If not now, then when. Better that he and Goodhue start to build a partnership now, rather than midway through the World Cup. The All Blacks can still revert to Crotty/ Goodhue if the former stays in one piece. But it will be foolish to assume that will be the case.
Everyone is wisely assuming the Chiefs have hit rock bottom and are therefore due for a dangerous rebound. It’s possible of course, but you’d suspect there’s more to this decline that failure to flick some switch. For the Hurricanes, who have a mountain of things to work on, it shouldn’t really matter. Work on the forward pack, and let the backs do their stuff. A win shouldn’t be taken for granted, but it would
be a shock if one can’t be delivered.
Remember that three letter code CVC that you get asked for on the back of your credit card. Clearly that is a lucrative business to be in, because CVC is offering a lot of money for a third of the Six Nations championship.
I understand a similar deal for Formula One has not ended that well for fans. So offered an eye-watering amount while being warned about the downside, which way do you think the Six Nations will go? Sadly I think we know the answer to all that.
World rugby of course is in huge turmoil. Sometimes it’s best for your sanity to just keep your eyes on the patch of green turf and let the rest go whizzing by.
The Hurricanes and the Chiefs meet on Friday night in Hamilton, kick-off 7.35pm.
The team is:
15 Chase Tiatia
14 Jordie Barrett
13 Matt Proctor
12 Ngani Laumape
11 Wes Goosen
10 Beauden Barrett
9 TJ Perenara
8 Ardie Savea
7 Du’Plessis Kirifi
6 Reed Prinsep
5 Vaea Fifita
4 James Blackwell
3 Ben May
2 Dane Coles (c)
1 Toby Smith
16 Asafo Aumua
17 Fraser Armstrong
18 Alex Fidow
19 Liam Mitchell
20 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis
21 Finlay Christie
22 Jackson Garden-Bachop
23 Salesi Rayasi