The Iveco series has begun and the All Blacks have got off to a...surprising start? The country was in shock on Saturday night when the final whistle blew in Dunedin's Carisbrook park to see the All Blacks lose to the French at home for the first time in 15 years and the fourth time ever!!! Saturday's game even fetching comments like this "This years All Black team is the worst in history". Although I doubt that very much, the All Blacks have been at the mercy of injuries to key players.
Here are the names listed to be in the All Black squad for 2009:
Forwards: Adam Thomson, Ali Williams, Andrew Hore, Brad Thorn, Bryn Evans, Isaac Ross, Jerome Kaino, John Afoa, Kevin Mealamu, Neemia Tialata, Tenarau Latimer, Tony Woodcock, Wyatt Crockett.
Backs:Brendon Leonard, Conrad Smith, Cory Jane, Isaia Toeava, Jimmy Cowan, Josevata Rokocoko, Luke McAlister, Ma'a Nonu, Mils Muliaina (Captain), Piri Weepu, Rudi Wolf and Stephen Donald.
Some Players have not been listed as they are out from injury, e.g.Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, some of the world's best
In my opinion a interception from the French fullback was the game winning try as until that point the scores were level at 17-17 although I believe the French forwards especially the back row was physically more prominent at the breakdown which kept the All Blacks on defence and even getting to the stage where NZ could not even secure their own ball from the ruck area.
The All Black Coach Graham Henry has realised the lack of dominance and flair in the game and as a result is making three changes to the starting line up; Injured Adam Thomson will be replaced with Tenarau Latimer, Conrad Smith for Isaia Toeava and Jerome Kaino for Liam Messam who has been dropped from the squad completely!!!
I think the French will be a hard team to beat next week in Wellington as they feast on confidence and they will be thinking to themselves "we can win again". It would be a real blow to NZ to lose twice at home but I fear it could happen.
However we will have to wait until Saturday to find out the results but the All Blacks definitely need to step up their game if they have any chance of beating this French team.