Friday, 23 August 2013 01:34
This weekend will see the return clash of the Bledisloe cup as well as the Boks against the Pumas. The Wallabies coach has only made one change to the starting line up, that too forced by injury. After the mauling of the previous week, many would have been tempted to go in for some sweeping changes, but McKenzie, remains steadfast in his views.
In his interview he said: “It’s always important to be conscious of finding a balance between selecting experience against youth, but the only way to develop that experience is by providing opportunities to players and hoping they take them. Right now, I’m more concerned with how each individual responds to the defeat. We need to fix aspects of our performance but we will get better the more times we spend together. However, in saying that, you only get a finite number of chances at Test level so it’s important that you don’t let the moment pass. That’s been made very clear this week as has the expectation of the level of improvement we need from each player within the squad.”
In the corporate world too, there is the eternal battle when one is forced to choose between experience and qualified youth with the proverbial line ‘they have the talent’. Having talent and the right qualifications are only essential ingredients that go into the mixture. What then counts is the mixing of the ingredients at the right time and the correct quantity. As someone once said, you cannot learn to swim by way of distance learning.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Greg Chappel when he took over as the coach of the Indian Cricket team. Whilst many will reap the benefits of the current Indian Cricket squad, one must not forget the principles and work ethics set at the initial stages. Thus McKenzie, will argue that the Wallabies are work in progress.
On the other hand, the All Blacks have made five changes of the game on Saturday. The selection that stumped many was the naming of Tom Taylor to debut at fly-half. Whilst I am not a fan of personal milestones, one cannot ignore the fact that two veteran forwards will raise milestones. Tony Woodcock plays his 100th Test and captain Richie McCaw making his 31st appearance against the Wallabies – a record for the number of Tests by one player against one country.
A recap of the previous week, and in the first half, the All Blacks was certainly not their best, but they did enough to lay a platform for a concerted attack in the second half. Many believe that the All Blacks have developed a competitive toughness, great composure under pressure and a self-belief that they can win from any position. Ewen McKenzie, continues to state the obvious that the Wallabies need to score tries to put the All Blacks under pressure. Unless there is a drastic change in the game plan, coupled with perfect execution, I cannot see a Wallabies victory.
There have been calls by numerous past players and coaching staff for the NZ crowd to stop booing Quade Cooper each time he steps on the field of play or touches the ball. This stems from an alleged clash between Cooper and McCaw a few years back. The crowds are yet to forgive Cooper for his altercation with arguably, the most respected person in NZ rugby. The booing does affect the game of Cooper and this weekend will be no exception.
(The writer can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.)