All Blacks using their champions for effective regeneration
James Mortimer 25 Aug 2013 Getty Images
Many West Indians and now Australians have scratched their heads that such dominance hasn't led to some further legacies over time.
The All Blacks have strived to break this cliché down over a proud and formidable history that has never truly seen them written off or ‘demoted or classed’ as a second rate sporting side, and one of the great winning percentages over time – with a 75 percent winning rate over 110 years – has ensured that never has their proud legacy crumbled.
If anything, it has grown stronger, and coach Steve Hansen is following this principle with a careful and deliberate regeneration of side that now boast several players over 30, although these men collectively wield several hundred Test caps.
It isn’t as if these new players are being introduced for the sake of things, but seem to be adding exciting new dimensions to an experienced All Blacks core.
Hansen knows the All Blacks cannot stand still, and now the next generation, from the new faces like Tom Taylor and Steven Luatua, reborn players like Ben Smith, through to the middle guard with the likes of Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock – are a multi-tiered roster mingled with the likes of Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, and more importantly, Keven Mealamu and Andrew Hore.
Players who may become Test number twos are now in high demand by the All Blacks.
Despite both men’s hunger and form still being strong, they are among the elders of the All Blacks camp, but with more experience between them than New Zealand has ever had before at hooker, moves are being undertaken to ensure that such players are not merely holding onto the jerseys, but grooming those who will one day wear them.
The initiative to bring in young rakes from around the country to spend time with the All Blacks squad throughout The Investec Rugby Championship, is an acknowledgement not merely of the need to build more depth, but the fact that these players for the future will learn off Mealamu and Hore while the two are embedded in their Test careers.
The introduction of Sam Cane to the ranks is part of this policy with an eye to having McCaw pass on his arts, while equally the captain is already in the process of grooming his likely successor in Read.
These are contingency and development policies that haven’t always yielded the same success in other sporting codes.
Vivian Richards and Shane Warne are two of the greats that spawned plenty of clones in the West Indian beaches and Australian backyards, but history has not seen other players rise from those legends with the frequency that either cricketing administration would like.
The All Blacks in a sense always are a team in regeneration, with it rare that a player doesn’t have selection heat or others hungry for their jersey.
Barely a dozen who toasted World Cup success in 2011 still remain with the team and those who do are ensuring their championship qualities are being passed onto the next generation, so that their knowledge is not forgotten, but more importantly the mantra to remain a winning team continues to be a priority.
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