Even though I am pissed at the ridiculous late tackle call by linesman Jonathon "I-can't-tell-the-time" Kaplan, the Crusader season really was lost when they didn't win games they should have earlier in the season (Blues & Cats in particular). Mind you, you would have to be a particularly harsh supporter too expect them to perform as consistently as they have for four years running. Gotta take the rough with the smooth I guess.
It hasn't been all doom and gloom though for Canterbury fans. Not going to talk much about the Mehrts saga (too much mis-information flying around there!). The form of Aaron Mauger, Chris Jack, Greg Somerville and Ben Blair has been VERY encouraging! Those four are the basis for a very strong fifteen next year.
Aaron Mauger - This boy has really stepped up to the plate! Under enormous pressure and expectation placed on young shoulders, he has come through with flying colours. Has great speed, good hands and can read the game well. His kicking game is also improving. Doesn't shirk the defensive stuff either. On this seasons form its not out of the question he could make the AB squad. Definite AB first five of the future.
Chris Jack - Probably the most promising lock in the country....by far! Is very tall, features well in the loose, and again has surprisingly good ball skills. Also got a hard edge to his play. He's the REALLY tall timber the AB's need. Is another AB squad candidate this year.
Greg Somerville - Too me, at the moment, he is the ideal "impact" prop in NZ rugby. Would be great coming off the bench to add some dynamic play near the end of a game. His scrummaging is improving (remember he is only 22) and should be an AB regular before long. Hsa too be at least in the AB squad this year.
Ben Blair - The little dynamo continues to impress. Lacks size which may inhibit his AB chances, but has all the skills combined with electric speed and an obvious intelligent mind.
These four players plus the likes of Hammett, Maxwell, Thorne, Feek, Marshall, Gibson, Mauger (Nathan), MacDonald etc etc make still for an impressive looking squad next year. The only player where age looks to be catching up on him is the immortal Todd Blackadder.
Toddy will be mentioned in the same breath as "Grizz" Wylie and Fergie McCormack as a Canterbury rugby legend. By the time he's fifty people like we at RugbyHeads would have relayed the legend of Toddy to our off-spring. By then he would have grown a few inches to be 7 foot tall, weighing in at a massive 130 kg's, and be able to run 100 metres in 10.5 seconds. He is a legend to us and will always be so.
However it may be time for the Toddfather to hang up his boots.
This may be especially so if he doesn't make the AB's this year. This situation is looking increasingly likely. An added reason to leave is the form of Chris Jack. The young guy needs more gametime.
There may be one more year in Toddy's legs for the Crusaders and Canty NPC team. He still can have a roll to play. Just not a starting role.
As for the rest of the S12, my hopes are that either the Chiefs or the Highlanders make the semi's. For all the Hurricanes obvious brilliance in the backs, their team also has very basic frailties that concern me. If the Hurricanes make the S12 finals & win they could dominate the AB's. You need hard players in the AB's. Sometimes the Hurricanes lack that hardness.