How do you solve a problem like Adam Thomson?
That's probably unfair. Our Thommo has been a blessing to
Highlanders and Otago fans since he finally got his
opportunity five years ago. The only "problem" is he is about
But in All Black terms, he remains a bit of a mystery.
He has an extraordinary range of attributes - the speed of a
wing, the height of a lock, the ball skills of a centre - and
a higher than average intellectual capacity.
Yet, there has always been a lingering sense the All Black
coaches have not QUITE believed in him at the top level, that
he has been pigeonholed as a super Super rugby player and a
merely decent All Black.
That is reflected in his record.
He has 29 caps (18 starts) over five years, and his longest
streak is four consecutive starts.
Those of us who have been on the Thomson bandwagon since his
early Otago days are frustrated he is destined to be
remembered as a useful international player, when we believe
he could have been quite special.
. . . that is Adam
So, as you take a moment to reflect on how lucky he was to
escape with a one-week suspension (boot in contact with head
equals trouble, no matter the intent or injury), think about
where Adam Thomson will rate.
Your all-time greatest All Black blindside flankers are Kel
Tremain, Ian Kirkpatrick and Alan Whetton.
The next tier includes Mike Brewer (he'd be a top-tier guy if
he had stayed fit and stayed at blindside), Taine Randell,
Mark Shaw, Jerry Collins and Jerome Kaino. Maybe Reuben
Thorne sneaks in there. Michael Jones, too, if you
concentrate only on his appearances in the No 6 jersey.
Loitering outside the top 10 along with his Highlanders
coach, Jamie Joseph, and Kevin Schuler.
Liam Messam and Victor Vito are now the leading All Black
blindside flank options. They can't be rated until they've
played more tests.
For our man Adam, it's nearly time up. His supporters would
have liked to have seen more of him, but he can be proud of
In the old days, it was an apple.
Now the kids get a bit more creative.
Kaikorai Valley College teacher and Otago rugby player Scott
Manson got a nice surprise this week.
One of his pupils produced a very large, very tasty cake - in
the shape of a rugby ball.
Definitely the way to impress a prop.
Albion's big year
The Albion Cricket Club will celebrate a very special
milestone at Easter when it turns 150.
The club, said to be the oldest continuous cricket club in
New Zealand or Australia, has a big weekend of socialising
and cricketing planned.
Organiser and historian-in-chief Warwick "Fox" Larkins tells
me there will be two Albion XIs named, a greatest all-time XI
and a best XI based on averages over the past 20 years.
The club is spoiled for choice when you consider some of its
past and present heroes: Bert Sutcliffe, Glenn Turner, Alex
Downes, John Bracewell, Ken Rutherford, Barry Milburn, Andrew
Jones, Martin Snedden and those useful McCullum boys.
A wrong turn
Just a quick story about a colleague's experience at the
Southland marathon last weekend.
This keen and fit runner had his first taste of what all long
distance types, presumably, eventually encounter when he, er,
Nearing the finish line, he was waved down a road by some
rather laid-back local officials, who neglected to add "to
Our marathon man carried on for about 1km before realising
the only pounding footsteps he could hear belonged to his
shoes. Upon turning around, he could see in the distance some
other runners making that left turn.
Lesser mortals would have spit and cursed but our patient
hero quickly back-tracked and still managed a top-10 finish.
My Granddad . . .
My thanks to everyone who passed on messages following the
death of my grandfather, Lex Meikle, last week.
Granddad - like all rural North Otago blokes - loved his
sport. I have his old diaries and there are regular entries
of "Went to Dunedin for the test" or "At the cricket".
Just a few weeks ago, he was reading the Richie McCaw book
and complaining to me that there was far too much run-of-play
stuff, and not enough personality insights.
He was also big on his bowls, and a loyal member of the old
Weston club. I'd regularly tag along and Granddad would try
to teach me the rudiments of the game. He was a finesse
player, and if he was disappointed his grandson much
preferred the heavy drive, he was too kind to say.
. . . and my Uncle
Later on Saturday, when Granddad had been farewelled, his
youngest son made a surprise announcement.
My Uncle Ross enjoys a flutter on the horses - has appointed
himself my personal racing adviser, in fact - and placed a
bet in Granddad's honour.
He chose a horse with an appropriate name in the eighth at
Riccarton. It won, and Ross presented the winning ticket to
my Gran. We didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
The horse's name?
Following on from Green Moon's win in the Melbourne Cup last
week, an observant racing fan passed on this tidbit.
The winner of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington on
Saturday was called Puissance de Lune - power of the moon.
Football fans of my generation or thereabouts will never
forget Brazilian forward Bebeto's celebration during the 1994
After scoring against the Americans, Bebeto and two
team-mates launched into a cradle-rocking routine in honour
of the recent birth of Bebeto's son.
Eighteen years on, the subject of that celebration - a lad
called Mattheus (named after Lothar?) - has made the
Brazilian under-20 team for the first time.
Birthday of the week
Speaking of Bert Sutcliffe, the great man would have been 89
Good time to re-read The Last Everyday Hero, by former Otago
Daily Times reporter Richard Boock.