Sky is falling? Try telling that to King Henry

By ANENDRA SINGH - Sports Editor


Chicken Little - not to be confused with veteran first five-eighth Nicky Little who played for the worst Rugby World Cup team, Fiji - is in town.

Apparently the sky is falling amid a collective groan of groin-straining magnitude.

Foxy Loxy, Batty Merthy and Partial Marshall have joined Turkey Lurkey, Ducky Lucky and Cocky Lockey to take it on themselves to inform the nation - and anyone else who cares - the world's coming to an end.

In rugby parlance, that translates to the premature exit of All Black first five-eighth Daniel Carter - the saviour and brains New Zealand were relying on to keep the cup campaign frothing should they hit judder bars in the play-offs from this weekend.

Without doubt coach Graham Henry is the architect of such hopeless dependency and should shuffle his cards.

It's time for King Henry, who is reportedly vacating his throne after this World Cup, to declare: "Arma-gonna-geddon on with the mess I have created over the past eight years."

Despite the outcry of apocalyptic proportions, I hasten to add the celestial roof of rugbydom, as we know it, isn't about to cave in this Sunday, when the ABs take on Argentina at Eden Park, Auckland, from 8.30pm in quarter-final No.4.

That's because the Argies, traditionally the tournament dark horses, are disappointingly minnows material although not as abysmally impotent as the flightless Fijians.

The doom and gloom merchants are justified in their alarmist approach in so far as Carter - amid an ostentatious contractual golden handshake with skipper Richie McCaw - was pivotal at the fulcrum of the ABs' backline, albeit untested at the segment of the World Cup that matters most.

The Carter crisis is tantamount to debunking Albert Einstein's Big Bang Theory on the way to worshipping at the altar of reason, only to embrace the false prophet again once the projected Armageddon date expires.

Again, in rugby scripture, that equates to the Men in Black having to run the southern hemisphere gauntlet at Eden Park against the South Americans this Sunday, armwrestling their way past the winners of Australia and South Africa in semifinal two on Sunday, October 16, at 9pm and then one last fling on Sunday, October 23, against the survivors of the northern hemisphere bull rush - Ireland versus Wales, England versus France.

Pie in the sky stuff right now, of course, because there's always the Whoevers versus the Whatevers beckoning the losing semifinalists on Friday, October 21.

But my preoccupation is with individual players and, more to the point, the "missing link" in the vein of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

If Carter was the lowest common denominator in the backline, who is the next joker in the pack?

Colin Slade is no Funky Monkey in the chain, even Turkey Lurkey would tell you that in the face of overwhelming evidence.

For starters, let's put Sunday's game against Canada in perspective.

Yes, Zac Guildford scored four tries, Jerome Kaino looked like he didn't need anyone else to stoke his fire in the engine room and prop Tony Woodcock was at his bolshy best, although he could lend credence to Chicken Little's theory after a sickening head clash with Canadian flanker Adam Kleeberger.

Canadians, one of the most affable people I've met despite the recent ice hockey riot, are no yardstick for measuring how the ABs fared when fed into the Stress-O-Meter of top-tier rugby.

Any more than England were trying to beat Scotland "the Brave" or the French were repelling Tonga's efforts in what resembled the Storming of the Bastille.

The games were dead rubbers and not worth risking injuries.

All of a sudden, even super sub Sonny Bill Williams looks a certainty for the starting XV in the semifinals.

If Israel Dagg joins the walking wounded then does an undercooked Mils Muliaina, robbed of confidence, become the back up?

Surely, Piri Weepu is Carter's back up with Aaron Cruden next in line. The Turbo-nator is behind Slade in experience but, considerably more imaginative under pressure.

Even a forgotten Alby Mathewson looks airtight.

How many ABs can say they have never missed a Super Rugby game through injury?

Well, right now, the ABs would kill for Kahn Fotuali'i's versatility and prowess.

Mmm ... Henny Penny - your thoughts on the matter?

- Hawkes Bay Today

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