Readers respond: Hansen's squad gets mixed reviews

Steve Hansen named his first All Blacks squad yesterday ahead of his maiden test in charge against Ireland. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Steve Hansen named his first All Blacks squad yesterday ahead of his maiden test in charge against Ireland. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The team have yet to play a test under his reign but new All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is already off side with some fans after naming his first squad yesterday.

Hansen named a 35-man squad which will take part in two training camps before being cut back to 30 players for the three test series against Ireland starting June 3.

It's a rite of passage that all All Black coaches must go through due to a passionate and highly opinionated fan-base, however Hansen's 35-names really struck a chord with nzherald.co.nz readers both with who was on the list and who wasn't.

Hansen named 11 newcomers in his training squad but it is three players with 195 tests between them that has polarized readers the most.

The inclusion of Blues' trio Ali Williams, Piri Weepu and Ma'a Nonu, who all have struggled to find form for the two-win franchise this season, was the biggest bone of contention among readers.

"Ali Williams - Give me strength. He's lazy - Watch Friday night's game. He's a negative influence on culture - Ask anyone close to the Blues. He's not performing - check out the stats. Can anyone tell me what has he done this season to deserve this call up?" wrote reader Stuke.

H T Hound didn't stop at Williams though questioning the inclusion of all Blues players.

"Six Blues players, you must be joking Mr Hansen & co. What an insult to other Super 15 players that have been performing throughout the competition. Clearly form doesn't matter for a "select" few. Let us hope some of these rejects are culled out of the squad," they wrote.

Northlander4Life said Weepu was lucky to a squad that was too focussed on the past.

"Piri Weepu should be long gone. I expect he won't actually play but still he's lucky to make it this far. As for Andre Taylor, that's a shame. He's a player for the future, which means we should be nurturing him now. This is a good squad but it seems to be looking a little too much towards the past and not enough to the future," they wrote.

Continental suggested Williams should also be counting his luck.

"It's a good squad though Williams should go out and buy a lotto ticket. Not only this season but the last few he hasn't fired a shot. So many locks around at the moment why pick him? Weepu and Nonu copping a lot of criticism though I agree with Nonu's selection."

However it wasn't all bad for Weepu, Nonu and Williams with some readers rating their experience more valuable than current form.

"Guys like Nonu, Williams and Weepu have performed at the highest level year after year. They know what's required to succeed at the highest level, you just don't 'drop' that kind of class or experience," wrote Adrian. "When they fail to bring it in the AB environment then they can get the boot. Form is temporary, class is permanent."

Peter250 also backed the Blues' trio.

"The 'old hands' will dominate the selection of the first test team, as they should. They have performed in the past with honour, (even with patchy franchise form) and still have a lot to offer both in terms of playing and tutoring. I applaud this selection," he wrote.

While Think Again added that some fans have short memories.

"What's all the Ma'a, Piri, Ali haters on about! Who was right up there as heroes at the World Cup you people with "little" memories. Ma'a, nominated for IRB player of the year and one of the heroes of the Cup, Piri, kept us in a game or two, Ali did okay. And you lot don't think they should be in the All Blacks because they're not quite on their game. Is that fair?"

It was the omissions of in form players Robbie Fruean, TJ Perenara and Andre Taylor that also trigged a response from the readers.

"I have to feel sorry for those players who a currently performing exceptionally this year and have been overlooked because of existing All Blacks name and reputation even though they themselves are not performing. What signal does that send out to our players across the board?" wrote Tiny Iraia.

"Surely now is the time to blood in some new youth into the All Blacks, Andre Taylor, Robbie Fruen and Peranara, guys like Weepu, Ali Williams and Nonu do not deserve their spots with the form they have shown so far in the super rugby season, and what about guys like Liam Messam not sure what else he could of done, Sam Cane and Brad Shields have only been subs all season, I just don't see the logic, someone tell me what I am missing?" added Grilla.

It's not all bad for Hansen. He does have some support out there with a number of readers backing the former All Black assistant who played a major part in last year's Rugby World Cup success.

"Hanson and Co have been studying these players up close for months and turning up to training sessions as well and speaking to players individually. Analysing strengths and weaknesses," wrote Kiwi in Perth.

"We see them for 80 minutes once a week. Give it up people we get these complaints every single year the squad gets chosen . Every YEAR. Yet the All Blacks still do well. Don't worry I'm sure Hanson and Co have their reasons. "

Melbourne Storm Ch also called for calm from All Blacks fans.

"Have faith in your coaches they will bring out the best in the current squad, NO need for 'they should pick him'. Trust them and see where this squad gets you. I remember when Weepu came into the All Blacks over weight last year and then the blokes carves up in the World Cup...the Coaches have a game plan so stop complaining and support your team.

"I don't think Steve Hanson wants to be the coach remembered as the guy who lost to Ireland for the first time ever. Go with the guys with the AB caps (and the medals) to do the job, they usually play better in a black jersey" wrote The Jacko.

While dread pirate made the point a short and succinct point.

"I will keep an open mind and trust the judgement of Hansen & Co for the time being. Let them be judged on results."

- HERALD ONLINE

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