Home' The Wellingtonian : August 11th 2011 Contents 23
THE WELLINGTONIAN, AUGUST 11, 2011
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Nat. Champ for GKR Karate in Age & Grade
Swimming, karate, hockey and cricket
are Ashleys passions, although she is
active in many more sports groups. She
represented Upper Hutt in the under
11s cricket and has also represented
her school in athletics and swimming
gaining 2nd & 3rd placings.
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Reputations at stake: Ma'a Nonu, left, Sonny Bill Williams, Richie McCaw and Conrad Smith will be hoping to cement their places in
All Black history at the World Cup.
The best of the best
Based on their stirring display
against Australia at Eden Park
last weekend, even the All Blacks
are going to have to work hard not to win
the World Cup this year.
They have managed to miss out quite
often so far, by not being good enough,
playing below their best, being poorly
chosen, suffering untimely illness and
injury, not peaking at the right time or a
combination of all of the above.
But Graham Henry's 2011 All Blacks
are playing urgent rugby -- their defence
is organised and efficient and they have
the champion's ability to pounce on any
Against Australia they defended dourly
for long stretches, yet still led 17-0 at
halftime. You win matches when you con-
vert half-chances into points.
In modern rugby, players' reputations
are made at World Cups.
A sparkling display in a non-World
Cup test can be quickly forgotten. But do
it on the World Cup stage, and your repu-
tation is cemented.
There is no better example than Jonah
Lomu, who in six weeks in 1995
progressed from a relative unknown to
the most famous rugby player ever.
I've chosen New Zealand's best XV,
based on performances at the six World
Cups, and have been guided entirely by
what players did during World Cups.
This has made for some quirky
Christian Cullen, for example, never
played at fullback in a World Cup, so
doesn't make my team. Others, including
Jeff Wilson, Zinzan Brooke and Tana
Umaga (and current stars Daniel Carter
and Richie McCaw) were not at their best
at a World Cup, perhaps because of
injury, or being played out of position.
My team, and the World Cup year in
which they were at their peak, is: John
Gallagher (1987), Jonah Lomu (1995),
John Kirwan (1987), Joe Stanley (1987),
Walter Little (1995), Grant Fox (1987),
Graeme Bachop (1991), Wayne Shelford
(1987), Michael Jones (1987), Alan Whet-
ton (1987), Ian Jones (1995), Robin
Brooke (1995), Carl Hayman (2007),
Steve McDowell (1987), Sean Fitzpatrick
I was conflicted at first-five, because
Andrew Mehrtens was excellent in 1995.
However, Grant Fox piloted the All
Blacks to a World Cup triumph and
Mehrtens did not.
My World Cup team has eight from
1987, five from 1995, and one each from
1991 and 2007.
The All Blacks won in 1987 and were
desperately unlucky not to in 1995, so
that's fair enough. Also, our last three
World Cup performances have hardly
showcased our best talent.
Anyway, my question is: which current
All Blacks will this year force their way
into a best-ever World Cup team?
Based on what New Zealand rugby
fans saw at Eden Park, Conrad Smith,
Ma'a Nonu (or Sonny Bill Williams),
Daniel Carter, Kieran Read, Richie
McCaw and Jerome Kaino will be push-
ing for spots, a reflection of how good the
2011 team seems to be.
And a final rugby-related thought (I
accept this won't go down well with
many): it's time the haka was abandoned
as a pre-match ritual.
In the professional era it's unfair that
players in one team have to stand around
picking their teeth while the All Blacks
do a haka that is becoming ever more
drawn-out and theatrical.
Let's have the two anthems and get on
with the game.
Karori Park gets
Karori Park will host its first first-class cricket
match next March, when Wellington play Central
Districts in the Plunket Shield.
Following extensive renovations in recent years,
Karori Park was awarded a first-class warrant of
fitness'' by New Zealand Cricket officials in Feb-
Cricket Wellington chief executive Gavin
Larsen said the scheduling of the Plunket Shield
match at Karori Park was the culmination of sev-
eral years of investment and partnership involv-
ing the Wellington City Council, the Basin Res-
erve Trust, Cricket Wellington, and the Karori
The match runs from March 18 to 21.
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