Kevvy's 100: Stand Up One Favourite Son
Keven Mealamu is not one to demand the position; not one to seek the spotlight; not one to gratuitously announce his stage must be set.
His character and demeanour is most evidenced by the overflow of words from his mouth; thoughtful; considerate of others; full of humility; the ultimate team man.
This also helps to explain his significance to this All Blacks unit; one reason why he is still stuck in the middle of the the two pillars, even if it gradually means more game-sharing with his good mate, Andrew Hore. He would have the form and primacy of play in 2011, and has long been held in high esteem as a core member of the leadership group; it seems in 2012, he has even taken this role to another level. Brad Thorn was talked about as the one who vouchsafed the team culture from within; the father-figure who understood from his experience what is needed in the moment. When the Black jersey; the core that encapsulates this culture was talked about in change, Mealamu was the man offering the insight, the respect, and the explanation of how the group wanted to retain as much of the tradition past down in All Black.
His play has become such that though the lineout may occasionally creak, we barely witness any other noise associated with his performance. He is the, Mr Reliable, of the group, who at 33 years young becomes the third All Black to reach 100 Tests. This number also points to his durability in play. In a position that has increasingly asked more of its proponents, Mealamu's gifts round the field of play has not been to the detriment of his prescribed role. I can still remember the rise of this former NZ age-group loose forward, who was referenced by none other than Richard Loe; the man to assume the position. He had stood out in the SupeStuff. The ability to work from a centre of gravity nearing grass-level would result in an enabled ability to make metres in tight and in close, taking the opposition to a depth where he can power on and they must let go. This dynamism shaped by his earlier growth, maximised the explosive significance of his play. Momentum is a key in any code, and when the Forwards are required to start again, such a gift provides vital traction and direction to navigate in phase play. This also means Mealamu is built tough. Anyone remembering the Cannon that went off on his chin will total recall the granite that did not move between his feet.
Stand up, one favourite son. We salute you!
We are presently at a point in this 2012 International rugby calendar when it is easy to consider a lull in expectations. We don't confess such a creed in All Black, but with Lord Bledisloe and the Investec Rugby Championship signed and sealed, the trophies have been won; however. There is always a, however, when it is Test time. No result other than a win will do. Another mark in the legacy and jersey likely proving enough, but when the players mentally pull together their collective thoughts, there will be additional motivation to honour the man in this one Test who has done so in the 99, previously. This is no small feat. We remember the significant celebrations for Captain McCaw and Mr Mils Muliaina. Both were able to celebrate after, because of what happened before; a win. While his career is more than a match, this will set the tone for what happens next, with the All Blacks motivated to cap centurion, extending the winning record to a "Super 17," thereby also providing the appropriate detail for a reflection of another's journey with the passing of Steve Hansen's, Dad, Des.
The New Zealand psyche is an interesting beast that prefers to stay in the shadows until the music plays, only then showing the moves that mystify me and you. Don't talk it up. Play it first. Since we are free from playing it into practice, we can enjoy this lack, by unequivocally stating this All Blacks unit should lay some more hurt on Robbie's charges in Brisbane. When we consider the Gold, we don't usually start up front, with names like Will Genia and Digby Ioane among those that keep our attention. They are missing in Brisbane. The stark and recent contrast in realities has even encouraged the opposition to talk up the All Blacks as the best ever. If McCaw is correct in his assertion that the Wallabies are weakest when at their most confident, in contradistinction to popular perception, maybe we should be thinking again about this present danger on Saturday night?!
The Wallabies have gone to the Breakdown well on media platforms, which is always the key and catalyst for success, particularly with two sides seeking to use the ball. The domination for the All Blacks at Eden was as vast as the opposition's total was lacking. Given the make-up of the Wallaby 22, they know if they are to have any chance, they must start there early and stay late, dominating McCaw and his posse. Seriously. Referee Craig Joubert should encourage this contest. When the Wallabies have had success, the man in 9 has also proved problematic for the defence. Genia's strength, speed, and ability to elude, has broken more than one line. The 9 to watch in this Test is on the other team, with Aaron Smith set to have a strong showing. While Nick Phipps is your meat and potatoes, Aaron Smith should provide the gravvy with service and speed. He should look to dart, forcing the insides to respect, also helping his outsides to unleash; a backline that has scored all but one of the All Blacks tries in this first Investec Rugby Championship season. It has plenty of points to give.
Let's be Owen Franks; when speaking of the present Test match winning streak at 18 by Lithuania; yes; what follows post-Wallaby should not suffer the All Blacks, versus Scotland and Italy, in taking this total. This is the one; the potentially sneaky fixture where mentally there is some give after much success. The All Blacks must walk onto Suncorp with a steel-trap for a mind, hell-bent on success. The reminder of Owen, also of significance, as Charlie Faumuina wins his first start; an All Blues Front Row.
The Wallabies would love nothing more than to be the team to silence the juggernaut. If this side has the growth and standing that many claim that it does; it should win by two hands and some toes; should take-it-to-make-it, 17; celebrate the way it knows how for one of the storied few, also remembering the coach; a now fallen son.
You know we will be live and active on the tweeting timeline come game-time, also reflecting on what has transpired, post the war.
Will these words prove that cyber-active paper can talk?
What Say You?
Until Next Time