Colin Meads

All Blacks great Colin Meads on the Rugby World Cup

Colin Meads: Henry's backs look okay, but the forwards are a worry

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Richie McCaw is going to be the first New Zealander to get 100 tests. Photo / Getty Images
Richie McCaw is going to be the first New Zealander to get 100 tests. Photo / Getty Images

The performance of the forwards against Tonga in the opening match of the Rugby World Cup has left me a little worried.

The concern came in the second half - the moment we lost Tony Woodcock and Brad Thorn our scrum packed up. I always say good players have a "bonus". It means you've got a job to do, and you do your jobs, and what comes above that is a bonus.

I think we had too many forwards who weren't doing their job - they were looking for "plums" or "bonuses" before they did their job.

I thought the backs all played well, except perhaps for Toeava. Yet there weren't too many forwards who you could mark better than five (out of 10).

The biggest worry for me is Thorn. Why did they take him off against Tonga? He's the one player who needs a lot of rugby, he's probably not playing as well as he did last year, when he was the super giant, and he's struggling to get back to that form.

I said last week that if the whole team plays well, we'll win the World Cup. Well against Tonga the backs played well and the forwards struggled. On that performance, we've got to improve upfront.

Sonny Bill Williams was one of the standouts and you have to give him a lot of praise. He was under the cosh and he really showed us what he can do. I bet that made the selectors pleased, because they've now got a quality backup if someone gets injured.

The greatest excitement of the last week is around Richie McCaw. That great, great player is going to be the first New Zealander to get 100 tests and I think that's tremendous.

It's a remarkable achievement and I'm pleased he'll be the first to reach 100 because he deserves it and it's history - we'll always remember that he was the first to play 100 tests.

I'm pleased with the team the selectors have picked to play Japan tomorrow night, and it's unfortunate that Dan Carter can't play, but Colin Slade will do terribly well.

Others are talking about rotation with the eight changes, but I'm not worried about that.

In a week's time Graham Henry and the selectors will pick their first-choice team to play France, and I expect Israel Dagg to be at fullback.

Israel is the form player and he is the guy who has to play the big games. You've got to pick him.

This week I just hope they play Brad Thorn for 80 minutes. And that Richie has a night to remember.

- NZ Herald

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