Reflections on an Irish Blackwash
It hardly feels like yesterday and we were talking about an All Black weekend. So it was.
A brief rugby fling with June would provide one moment in the middle where it would get hot in our kitchen, but the joy of Eden would only be surpassed by the event in Hamilton. How many times do you get to say that in a season? Not enough, say those consumed with a Heifer, but after 60 of our best, it was fair to say we had put the Irish into a Stew. Zip!
Three zip, in fact. 107 years still looking black gold. Some were left pondering whether playing the All Blacks was consistently the toughest team sporting challenge in the world of sport. We do have some history to tell.
While Hansen and Co. will be beavering away - not so covert reference to Stephen. We have been in the Tron, after all - only taking moments to savour the early battles that have been won, we have taken some time on the BackingBlack blog to "mull" over some of themes permeating this series existence, as it relates to All Black. 2012 has only begun. Really. 11 of 14 test matches remain.
Nevertheless, the following has been noted.
Rookie camp stood tall. The majority witnessed game time in the Irish series, with Aaron Smith starting in all three. Many understandably have acclaimed his contribution, identifying his frame as being the best in All Black. We knew he had the clearance of a Bachop, but we were also given some growing signs that his size is not intimidated with ball in hand. One of the reasons why we witnessed a growing backline "mojo" was because time was on their insides, which began with Smith.
Sam Cane proved he has the Talent and Maturity to Compliment McCawesome. Blackadder has offered some British comedy that it is McCaw's time to consider six, and given Matt Todd down south, this talk could become reality at a lower level. One of the greats, the Iceman, Michael Jones, has provided an example that can be copied and is being referenced. Sam Cane affirmed in this series that the other part to this picture now has some real size and shape. The thing about Cane is that we have yet to see his best at a lower level, but what wise eyes have witnessed when given the stage, did indeed shine. Balance will be the key, with the six-side more about getting physical. However, the range of options is growing.
Conrad Smith is our Banker in the Backline. We have bloviated about the balance that C-Rad provides to an All Blacks unit. He stands in the crosshairs out in the middle, with his cerebral talents outworked in his approach. While others often gets the finishing plaudits, Conrad holds it together, providing the fortitude and strength of character most often seen in his all-world covering defence. While his opposite man had some talent in this series, Conrad Smith is the world's best.
SBW is a Burgeoning and Beginning to Show. The man gets his fair-share of headlines, and we have been there recently, so let's keep it brief. His physical gifts remain undeniable. His sense of the code is now at a level where the natural can begin to flow. Yes, opposition to come will test this further, and will no doubt stretch his growth. If he gives it time, he has the chance to be one of a rare breed.
Our Scrum has plenty of room for Improvement. It has been a long time since talk has grown about the lack in an All Blacks scrum. The King Henry era put that to bed. However, there were a couple of moments when we were reminded to not rest of any laurels. This foundation must not move.
Victor Vito. Yes, just in test one. But his frame would be missed in the rest. He has played much of his recent rugby in 8, but at the elite level, the side of the scrum is an appropriate All Blacks fit. Given the importance of Jerome Kaino, the space was wide with anticipation. For all the talk about McCaw in six, this is likely a more distant future, than a present reality.
Horses for Courses. Brad Thorn & Jerome Kaino. Test Two should remind us of the likely intensity in the coming Internationals. Confrontational times await. When it is loosey-goosey, we can easily forget these two behemoths, but such would be missing the point. Kaino is talking about returning. Such is very good news. We need to make sure we are tough in the tight. Romano was promising in test three.
We could further digress, but we rest on a 3-0 defence - World Champion.
As I am sure you will be aware, August 18th vs Australia, is the next time we witness our national icons on the rugby field. Yes, some time & a season.
You know we will be there with you throughout that future, but keep it close as we take some time to take it slow, continuing the All Blacks emotion-to-devotion that is BackingBlack.
What, even, Who, stood tallest in the Irish series for you, O Fan?
What Say You?
Until Next Time