The Last Word: Fresh faces . . .

San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum waves as he rides through confetti during a victory...
San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum waves as he rides through confetti during a victory parade for the World Series champions in San Francisco. Photo by Reuters.

There is nothing worse in sport, if you really think about it, than boredom.

Scandal, poor sportsmanship, a dearth of talent, excessive violence, spoiled athletes, intractable administrators - these can all have grievous effects on a given code.

But, really, no tool is as powerful as boredom for sucking the life out of a sport, for halting a sport's momentum, for shrinking a sport's support base.

I'm not saying the All Blacks will lose fans, or yet another northern tour (yawn) will provide nothing but dreariness for four weeks.

I'm saying that was the most boring All Black squad in the professional era named by Steve Hansen on Monday.

I thought it was part of the New Zealand Rugby Union constitution that every All Black squad had to include a bolter, a shock, something strange, something weird.

Yet there goes Shag, unveiling a squad about as exciting as an episode of Midsomer Murders.

Same old faces - some getting very old, by the way - and just two new caps, both of whom effectively picked themselves.

Hansen and the All Blacks deserve huge credit for their efforts in 2012, and I fully expect them to sweep all northern foes aside.

But wasn't this the ideal opportunity to blood six to seven new players?

To shake things up just a little bit?

• ... might have been nice

These are the players I would have preferred to see on this tour.-

Andy Ellis (not Piri Weepu): Boom, I've immediately contradicted myself. As usual. It has been years since Ellis was a fresh face. But he's in form, and Piri's World Cup heroics seem a looooong time ago. Thought this one was a no-brainer.

Steven Luatua or Jordan Taufua (not Adam Thomson): No, I haven't relinquished my membership of the Thommo Fan Club. Founding members signed up for life. It's just that our favourite Highlander will soon leave these shores. And he's not a first-choice All Black.

The real bolter could have been picked in his position.

Any lock (not Ali Williams).

Maybe James Broadhurst, or fellow Taranaki man Craig Clarke. Maybe this young Dominic Bird fellow from Canterbury. Heck, maybe underrated Otago second-rower Rob Verbakel. Just not big Ali.

He's not there on merit.

Hika Elliott (not Keven Mealamu): Mealamu gets a break, and another contender gets an opportunity ahead of an eventual Mealamu-Hore double retirement.

Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen (not Ben Franks): The Wellington prop is a big lad, and Franks senior has had plenty of opportunities without really demanding selection.

Tom Taylor (not Dan Carter): No, seriously. Carter needs regular breaks between now and the next World Cup, and this could have been a good place to start. Taylor's got the goods.

• In all honesty

You have to be careful about giving too much endorsement to sportspeople who, for want of a better word, slag off officials from a public platform.

Sport needs a certain level of freedom of speech, interesting characters and raw emotion, but constant querying of snap decisions made by officials without the benefit of slow-motion replays gets a little tiresome.

Er, in saying that, what a BRILLIANT post-game interview from Phoenix captain Andrew Durante following his side's loss to Adelaide.

Diving = cheating. And the aptly named Jeronimo was guilty of one of the worst dives I've seen.

That Jeronimo has escaped punishment, and Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund has copped a suspension for nothing, only encourages the cheats to keep diving.

• Hoop dreams

Ah, NBA season is upon us. And a full season at that. No pesky lockout this season.

You might recall our feature almost a year ago in which we suggested how to find a team to support.

No need to regurgitate those guidelines. Just put the house on the Miami Heat defending its championship, the retooled Lakers taking advantage of the Thunder's decision to offload James Harden to reach the finals, the Bulls being dangerous if Derrick Rose makes a complete recovery (and virtually irrelevant if he doesn't), the Celtics going as far as Rajon Rondo takes them, the Spurs with Tony Parker ditto, the Pacers/Nets/Cavaliers being potentially interesting, the Magic/Bobcats/Nuggets/Blazers/Kings being hopeless, Anthony "Unibrow" Davis being rookie of the year, and my beloved New York Knicks, um, ah, doing SOMETHING interesting.

• Queen V visit

New Zealand sporting royalty is in Dunedin next week.

Double Olympic gold medallist Valerie Adams - New Zealand's favourite woman? - is here promoting her new book.

She will be at Whitcoulls George St (11am-11.15am), The Warehouse South Dunedin (11.30am-11.45am) and The Warehouse Mosgiel (12.30pm-12.45pm) on Wednesday. Go say gidday and get her book signed.

• Caring canoeist

The Brighton Surf Life Saving Club folks raising money for a new club rooms and community facility advise they have found another (figuratively) big supporter.

Olympic kayak champion Lisa Carrington, no stranger to life-saving, has donated a signed Olympic shirt to the cause. It will be auctioned soon.

• You betcha

Nine little league football coaches have been arrested on charges of bookmaking, ESPN reports.

The coaches allegedly ran a gambling ring involving youth football teams of, get this, 5 to 15-year-olds.

As much as $100,000 was bet on the season's final games.

• Birthday of the week

Adolf Dassler would have been 112 today.

Stumped? His nickname was Adi. Adi Dassler. Adidas.

Adolf and brother Rudolph started cranking out footwear after World War 1, and shod Jesse Owens when he won four Olympic medals in Berlin.

The German brothers joined a party run by some other Adolf - Rudolph was apparently the more fervent Hitlerite - but parted ways after World War 2.

Adolf created Adidas, Rudolph created Puma.



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