Who was better, Buck or Zinny?
That's one hell of a question. I was privileged enough to have an international career span that allowed 'em to play footy alongside both of these guys.
Wayne Shelford was the most genuine leader you could imagine. He was captain when I made my debut. I enjoyed his mana, he never took a backward step, he trained with incredible intensity and - this was important too - he socialised pretty well to boot. Buck made sure that the All Black machine was always moving forward.
Zinzan Brooke was a world-class athlete and wildly competitive. For skills, there wasn't a No 8 anywhere in the world who could match him. And he was willing to try stuff. That adventurous spirit is important to All Black rugby. With his mixture of confidence and skills, opponents never knew what Zinny would do.
They were two genuine legends. For the Kamo XV - and if my life depended on making a selection - it'd have to be Buck by a whisker.
I love rugby, but cannot affiliate with our super franchises. I am from Counties but support the Rebels because they are new! A sad reason. I know! I want to see club rugby run from start of February until June. Then from June until August the ITM Cup, Currie Cup, and a new Aussie equivalent run to provide the top three from NZ and SA and top two from Aussie. Then two pools of four play off to provide the two finalists. This provides a super champ and a different comp every year. End of boredom! And I can support my own province. Then an international window can be thrown in midway through and at the end.
What are your thoughts?
Even if we came up with the very best possible idea, there could be no change before 2015, when the television deal is up for renegotiation again. And the reality of the professional game is that anything we come up with has to be attractive to television. We need to ask: How wide is the audience for the competition? So, while getting the likes of Counties in there might be great for the grassroots supporters of Counties, how would it play in Wellington? Or Nelson? Or London? That's the big point. If we want money in the game to keep our big stars here, then we need to be producing an attractive television product. The five-franchise system makes that possible.
Also, teams wouldn't be able to hold the best players on anything more than one-year deals if there's no guarantee of what competition they'll be playing in the following year.
We often think the Super 15 is a Southern Hemisphere thing, but the television numbers in Europe and Asia are huge.
You're dead right about the value of club footy. It was to be preserved, and at the moment the provinces agree on a set day, two weeks before the NPC begins, which is club finals day. So the club stuff is done before the provincial competition gets under way and there's no overlap.
But Boof, get on the Chiefs bandwagon! This is shaping up to be their year. Enjoy the footy for what it is - and you can always keep a place for Counties in your heart.
What's dirtier: eye-gouging or ripping at someone's nuts? And what's the dirtiest thing you ever saw done on a field?
From personal experience, I can tell you neither is particularly nice. But going for the eyes is absolutely bottom drawer because of the damage that can be done. You'll squeal if some one gets you down below, but with eye-gouging the potential for blinding someone is very real.
If Hosea Gear is so clearly willing to put off or even cancel his move to an overseas club, shouldn't the ABs stick him in the side anyway and hope the attraction of being in the side keeps him in the country. I reckon he's awesome and Guildford is benefiting from being in a side that's in good form.
For me, Zane, this has been the story of the week. You can't doubt the value of the All Black jersey to these guys. Gear was gone for all money with a lucrative Japanese contract in sight, but when the chance of playing more All Black rugby presented itself, he had a quick rethink.
I've got no problem with guys going when they've got a solid All Black career behind them and have done their bit. And you can't begrudge someone having a pop, realising they won't make the step up, then hopping on a plane to the south of France. But Gear's best years in black could still be ahead of him, so it's heartening to see the allure of the jersey - which meant so much to me as a player - still counts for something.
Gear will still have to earn a place. There are some good wingers about - Richard Kahui and Cory Jane are injured, but he'd still have to get past Julian Savea and Zac Guildford. Rich competition, indeed.
Would Carter be able to handle the heavy traffic at No 12? It seems a waste of smart ball-handler to have him doing something big boys like SBW or Nonu can manage better.
I don't get the idea with Carter playing No 12. He's the best No 10 in the world, why mess with that formula?
Look at what messing around with Weepu at the Blues did. Weepu - whatever his form and fitness - was the incumbent All Black No 9, but by moving him about between two roles it unsettled him and the team. It also puzzles me to see Richie McCaw playing anywhere other than openside. If it's an injury crisis, then you do what you have to. But when you have excellent specialists, I would mess them about with great reluctance.