100 Greatest All Blacks: Jerome Kaino

There may be more to come in the test rugby career of Jerome Kaino but his rise to distinction was crowned by his try-saving tackle in the 2011 World Cup semifinal.

Muscular Wallaby wing Digby Ioane was churning his way to the line until Kaino roped and bulldogged him back from the touchdown. Take that, he could have snorted as the All Blacks pounded their way to an impressive victory.

The tense victory in the final against France was Kaino's last test appearance before he went to Japan. It was the end of a supreme year for the blindside flanker and eventual justification for his initial selection in the All Blacks in 2004.

In some ways that choice was a bit like last year's selection of Ardie Savea. It was a punt on a rookie, a gamble on a looseforward the selectors thought would become a strong international.

Injury, uncertainty and competition were obstacles across Kaino's bow. His attack was intriguing but there were defects in his defensive work. Kaino reassessed the demands and when he shifted all his attention to his preferred No 6 role, the benefits shone for Kaino and the All Blacks.

He looked comfortable, he added a lineout presence, his game went to another level with that surety and so did his menace. He was the wall on defence but when the occasion demanded, Kaino could power his way forward with the ball.

His body was strong and his mind was unbending even if he was reluctant to divulge too many secrets in conversation.

When Kaino left he was in serious touch and with Kieran Read and Richie McCaw, the All Blacks had a rich loose trio. Kaino returns this year for what should be an enthralling challenge to return to test rugby and the 2015 World Cup.

Statistics
Date of birth: 6 April 1983
Position: Blindside flanker
Matches: 49
Tests: 48
Test debut: 10 June 2006 v Ireland, Hamilton
Final test: 23 October 2011 v France, Auckland
Province: Auckland
Franchise: Blues
Test tries: 8
Test points: 40

- NZ Herald

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