Q: Are the Chiefs really missing SBW that much and what is the answer?
Yes they are, any team would be in the form he showed last year but you can't worry about what you don't have. There still must be a lot of belief in the defending champions camp - they have already had their tour of South Africa (collecting 7 points), they are the best attacking team in the competition, scoring 240 points so far including 25 tries. They are only second in the New Zealand conference due to the Blues already having their two byes and they have a goal kicker in Gareth Anscombe who is slotting them at 81 per cent, a vital stat as we near the playoffs. Add to that this week sees the return of their inspirational co-captain Craig Clarke and all the answers may lie in the above. They don't need to change what they are doing, just get a little better. One thing SBW did give them was a ball runner from phase play who could break the line in close, allowing Aaron Cruden to operate a little wider and showcase his skills. Not easily replicated but something Richard Kahui could do with regular game time.
Q: With the naming of the All Black squad just weeks away, what positions would worry the selectors most?
Without wanting to sound too arrogant about this, none of the positions in the All Black 22 should worry the selectors. They will have complete faith in the players available and provided we still have enough experience out there in the middle we will see no drop in performance from Steve Hansen's men. I love this time of year with the naming of the first AB team and seeing positions we thought we might have a weakness in become a strength throughout the remainder of the season.As a Counties man, I'm a big fan of Alan Dawson.
Q: Who do you reckon are some the unluckiest players never to become All Blacks?
Can't agree about Alan Dawson. He had 201 games for Counties and sat on the AB bench but no game time. Unlucky for me were North Auckland fullback Warren Johnstone and a real talent, Frank Colthurst who, like plenty of others, was named as an All Black but never took the field. We know that wouldn't happen today. Ross Fraser from Taranaki was named the day he broke his leg and was never picked again. Brian Going should have joined his brothers Sid and Ken but didn't. Iain Abercrombie is another who was the Baby Blacks' reserve before Sean Fitzpatrick came along and owned that jersey for the next 12 years. More recently we have Duane Monkley, Errol Brain, John Leslie, Tony Marsh and Dave Latta. All great players who would have been very proud All Blacks but weren't.