For those of you who didn't see the game you may not realize that Norm Maxwell and Chris Jack started at lock and Blackadder filled in on the side of the scrum (back in the number 6 jersey), in place of the injured Reuben Thorne, allowing Broomhall to start at his preferred No. 8 spot and Brad Thorn to be an impact player off the bench.
Jack and Maxwell looked great at lock, and really gave us some wonderful options at lineout time (esp. when you consider we still had Toddy as a 3rd option).
I guess some of the improved lineout play was due to the fact that Maxwell was back in there as the number one option (and he is so good at that, certainly far more reliable than many of the other NZ locks at the moment) but having Jack as your second option, rather than a converted loosie in Toddy, has to be better.
On the side of the scrum Toddy played is usual solid game, with a high work-rate on defence and good support play in the tight but he wasn't nearly as prominent in open play as Rueben Thorne has been this season.
The question AT and I asked was what do you do when Thorne comes back from injury? I guess they will drop Jack back to the bench, but in terms of having the skills and physical attributes to play the position (ignoring the leadership and experience that the Toddfather brings to the side) it would appear that there is no starting spot in the team where Toddy is the number one choice. And this is just the Crusaders team, if this is true in the Super12 then he can hardly be considered as an AB!
I can tell that Black Toddadder is going to crucify AT and I for suggesting this, but I know that it's something that two-eyed rugby fans were arguing last season in relation to All Black selection.
I answer to that I would respond that I don't believe this argument applied last season. At the end of the Super12 Toddy was the second best lock in the country (which has more to do with the lack of other good locks rather than the ability of Toddy in the position), and his wonderful captaincy skills had just led the Crusaders to another title. With the struggles of former captain Randell it was a good decision to select him, and he performed pretty well. However, this season it's not nearly so clear cut.
So if Toddy's not a solution at Lock for the AB's then who this?
If Maxwell is healthly then he is still a certainty, and his first game back on Saturday night showed his class, especially in the lineouts.
Based on the season so far the form NZ locks in my eyes include Chris Jack, the waikato pair of Cooksley and Willis, and Paul Tito, who has been the most impressive lock in the Hurricanes squad. I must admit I haven't paid too much attention to the Otago options, although Simon Maling has been looking good from a fantasy rugby perspective, so he must be playing pretty well.
The other two Hurricanes locks, Waller and Afeaki, who were strong performers last season have been overshadowed by Tito. As I have said Toddy has been solid this season but not outstanding, and for the Blues Troy Flavell hasn't impressed so far, (and is still a meathead) and Robin Brooke was basically told he was out of the AB picture last season.
On current form an AB pairing of Tito and Maxwell could be our most dynamic option!
Food for thought indeed, let's hope Toddy picks up his game in the remainder of the Super12 and wipes these thoughts from my mind!