Richard Loe 's Opinion

Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: Hookers should be thrown in deep end

4 comments
Dane Coles has a bit of experience now and would deservedly be considered our No1 choice. Photo / Getty Images
Dane Coles has a bit of experience now and would deservedly be considered our No1 choice. Photo / Getty Images

There might be a few people a bit nervous about the All Black situation at hooker. I'm not one of them. I don't think we are so badly placed.

Dane Coles has a bit of experience now and would deservedly be considered our No1 choice. I'd start with him against England and give him a good 60-plus minutes.

If we are going well in the first half of the first test — there is a bit of talk from England about them not having their best team here for that one — then I would say take him off at halftime and give the other bloke a run. The other bloke?

I think it's time for one of the younger hookers, if not two of them, to be promoted. I wouldn't say that any of Liam Coltman, Nathan Harris or Rhys Marshall look like they are quite ready. But so be it.

You only have to think back to a time when Andy Dalton and Hika Reid played for the Cavaliers which made them available for the first two tests of 1986.

There were three hookers back then who weren't supposedly ready either — Sean Fitzpatrick and Bruce Hemara. I seem to remember one of them might have gone on to become quite a good All Black.

I know from my own experience that I didn't feel I was ready when I first played for the All Blacks. It got to halftime and I thought, 'wow, that was fast'. Then it was all over before I knew it. I felt like I could have played again. The adrenaline pump is that good.

The other thing to remember is that, if one of these youngsters is given a go against England, they are going to have some pretty good, experienced players around them. The props are likely to be Owen Franks and Tony Woodcock with Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick at lock and Liam Messam, Richie McCaw and Jerome Kaino (if Kieran Read doesn't come right) in the loose trio. That's not bad and all the new boy will have to do is his job.

I'm not sure there is much between the contenders.

Coltman is a bit hot and cold for me. Marshall has got around the track well but needs help with his throwing. I don't think that's such a big problem — even Anton Oliver still needed help with his throwing in the last few years of his career.

Harris has played well and might be the one to go with first up. Keven Mealamu is always there if needed and, for the June series at least, so too is Corey Flynn.

- Herald on Sunday

Richard Loe

Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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