- By Kevin McCarthy
I’m writing this on a Thursday so that’s like Day Five after the game and the coulda shoulda woulda froth is starting to subside.
Just to get it out of the way. Sam Whitelock did cheat. But it does not follow that we would have scored. You can rage all you like, but the game turned as much on events earlier as that one at the end.
For example, the Hurricanes poor game plan in the first half. It felt good going in with just a six point deficit, but should it have been much better? As well all know, that was a team transformed in the second 40.
What would James Marshall give to not have that shocker of a mistimed fielding of the ball on his highlights reel. Cue the try that gave the Crusaders oxygen in the second half. The ball, as they say, bounces in unpredictable ways.
You can go on for a while. But it’s all a bit down in mouth. So here’s time to celebrate, even if you don’t feel that way.
So I’m giving thanks for the team which honestly I did not think would cut the mustard by season’s end. To give the Crusaders the fright of their lives was terrific.
I’m giving thanks to the forward pack, which showed little sign of playing second fiddle to the outfit that was supposed to leave them smeared like so much road kill.
I’m giving thanks to the heart of the side, TJ and Ardie, who kept our title hopes afloat week in and week out, when it looked like the Canes could slip into mediocrity.
I’m giving thanks to the younger faces who often had to slot in and carry the load without much experience. There’s a ton of potential there.
And finally I’m giving thanks to the coaches. We’re never going to understand or agree with some of the stuff we see out there, and honestly, who knows whether its you or the players at fault. But a semi final, and a much better showing in that game than in 2018, is clearly a plus.
The Cane Train is parked for now, but not for long.
Now that Sam Whitelock. I spat out my cornflakes to read Nick Mallett’s reported comments praising his actions as “smart” and the result of some brilliant coaching.
For heaven’s sake Mr Mallett, the guy cheated. There is plenty of cheating in rugby (though never by my side). Some times it works. When it doesn’t (Craig Dowd) you have John Eales lining up a penalty to keep the Bledisloe another year.
But can you just call it what it is. And don’t call it wonderful, or smart. Cheating is breaking the rules for advantage. Is that really what we want to encourage?
Any way as fans, in the long tradition of Wellington and the Hurricanes, I expect you to hold on to the resentment and let it fester, ready for the next time Inspector Gadget Whitelock comes to the stadium. Although possibly that’s never, as everyone seems to be off to play for the PanaSony Chargers these days.
What about them All Blacks?
I don’t know about you but 39 player squads always seem to me like a chance to not be too nasty to too many players out there who have missed the cut.
The real deal will be that final World Cup 31, and as always, there will be injuries to come. So if your pet player is on the outer, if’s like Auckland weather you don’t like. Just wait 15 minutes for it to change.
Oh and there’s some game being played in Christchurch. Jaguares v Crusaders. It should be a good one too.
I still can’t see the Argentinians winning, but it will be nice to see the Saders sweat again.