Kiwi selectors on the piss?

So much for Graeme Henry keeping it tried and tested … Although, to be honest, he has always mixed and matched his starting XV’s, something that has sometimes come back to bite him in the botty … Because come the crunch time games come, he has too many great players in good form. Perhaps the same thing this time round?

Three big surprises in the All Black side to play Tonga on Friday … Sonny Bill Williams has been given the chance to revive his Test career at the expense of Conrad Smith, and this is just one of nine changes to the run-on side that lost to Australia 20-25 last month.

Israel Dagg has been preferred at fullback ahead of Mils Muliaina, interestingly clearing the way for captain Richie McCaw to become the first All Black to reach 100 Tests. Both players have 98 Test caps at the moment.

Andrew Hore starts at hooker ahead of Kevin Mealamu, who cannot even make the bench, and with both Thompson and Read injured, lock Sam Whitelock will act as loose forward cover.

New Zealand: (15-1) Israel Dagg (Canterbury Crusders), Richard Kahui (Waikato Chiefs), Maa’s Nonu (Wellington Hurricanes), Sonny Bill Williams (Canterbury Crusaders), Isaia Toeava (Auckland Blues), Dan Carter (Canterbury Crusaders), Jimmy Cowan (Highlanders), Victor Vito (Wellington Hurricanes), Richie McCaw (Canterbury Crusaders, Captain), Jerome Kaino (Blues), Ali Williams (Auckland Blues), Brad Thorn (Canterbury Crusaders), Owen Franks (Canterbury Crusaders), Andrew Hore (Wellington Hurricanes), Tony Woodcock (Auckland Blues).

Bench: Corey Flynn (Canterbury Crusaders), Ben Franks (Canterbury Crusaders), Anthony Boric (Auckland Blues), Samual Whitelock (Canterbury Crusaders), Piri Weepu (Wellington Hurricanes), Colin Slade (Canterbury Crusaders), Cory Jane (Wellington Hurricanes).

But the best thing about this selection is the comment that came from Sportreview.net.nz

All Black selectors get drunk, select backline

All Black selectors confirmed they were “pretty wasted” when selecting the team to face Tonga. Forwards coach Steve Hansen told a packed press conference: “We had a few selection headaches, so Smithy brought a box of Woody’s. It all kicked on from there.”
A lightly kebab-stained team sheet revealed the surprise combination of Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu, and the inclusion of Isaia Toeava. “I was as surprised as anyone to see Kahui on the wing. Lucky Kronic has been banned, it could have been Mils at centre!” said Hansen.

“We looked at the whole squad, their form, the combinations… then we got fucko. One minute we’re discussing Conrad’s defence vs Sonny Bill’s offload, next thing I’m arguing with a bouncer about the club shutting at 5am. I wasn’t even up for a biggy!” said head coach Graham Henry. When asked if rotating the squad at this stage was dooming the team to repeat the mistakes of 2007′s early exit, a clearly tired and emotional Henry replied “Fight you,” before falling asleep awkwardly on his microphone.

Well, it had me rolling on the floor …

Two more sleeps … Bring it on!

PS – I know most of you are fellow SuperBru nuts, and are already playing in your allocated 5 pools, but just in case you have one left, please join us in the Front Row Grunt Megapool.

The best predictors of the week get featured here on the Grunt and on my @TankLanning Twitter account, while the overall winner chooses his favourite FRG logo from the two below, to go onto a t-shirt that will be delivered to your door …

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