Sir Graham Henry presented to the IRANZ High Performance Coaches group this week and made a remarkable statement: 60% of being successful as a coach is selection.
Armchair selectors rarely get it right when they speculate who will make the test team. When the All Black selectors sit down to debate contentious positions they discuss the relative merits of each candidate. They also analyse how they fit together, the crossover of roles, compatibility and opportunity.
There are many examples of this selection process in the All Black team to play Argentina. It will be a stern challenge and questions will be asked in the front row, the loose forwards (where there are three IRANZ graduates) and the midfield.
Ofa Tu’ungafasi is now a seasoned All Black but he was quiet with the Blues pack. How will he perform in a front row which has never played together and includes wild card Angus Ta’avao against a red hot Argie scrum?
Vaea Fifita is another who has been thrown a lifeline. He is linked with fellow IRANZ grad Ardie Savea and Sam Cane. It’s been a tough year for Vaea but this is his opportunity for him to prove he is the real deal – the next Jerome Kaino!
The midfield combination has been a revolving door since Conrad Smith and Ma`a Nonu left. Is Laumape the new Nonu and can he combine with Lienert-Brown to create space for others to score? It remains to be seen.
These are the questions raised by the selection choices and they will be answered in the heat of battle in Argentina.