Rugby: Hore not thinking of retiring yet

By Daniel Richardson

Andrew Hore. Photo / Otago Daily Times
Andrew Hore. Photo / Otago Daily Times

Andrew Hore might turn 34 in September but the All Blacks hooker doesn't see himself giving up rugby anytime soon.

Coach Steve Hansen noted on Sunday that his three World Cup-winning hookers - Hore, Keven Mealamu and Corey Flynn - were all the wrong side of 30, so drafted 26-year-old Hika Elliot into the wider group for this week's training camp in Wellington to replace the injured Mealamu.

But after Hore moved south to join the Highlanders for this year's Super Rugby campaign, the 62-test veteran said he still had a few more scrums in his legs.

"That's all up to the coaches," he said. "I'm still keen enough and things are going pretty well and if I can hold my form together and the coaches keep picking me, I'll keep going.

"And the old man's not barking too loud about going home to the farm, so I'll see how I go here."

Elliot's elevation ahead of Flynn has shown Hansen's intent to look to the future, and Hore said his name was never guaranteed to be on the team sheet either.

"Not at all. You've got to get out there, that's what rugby's all about, isn't it? Play as good as you can and try to get into this team and you see some of the young fellas coming along; Dane Coles and that are playing pretty good footy as well. So to be here is always a thrill and hopefully Kevy (Mealamu) and I can hold in there for another couple of years and keep fighting for that starting spot."

Since Hore made his international debut against England in 2002, he has battled with Mealamu - and Anton Oliver at other stages - to wear the No 2 jumper, but the Dunedin-born rake said the healthy competition was good for the team.

"He's started, I've started and it's pretty much been like that the whole time so I think that's the great strength of the All Blacks," Hore said of his battle with Mealamu.

"There's plenty of fight for each position there so Kevy and I are good mates on and off the field so it makes it a lot easier when the guy is pushing you hard or you're pushing him hard and you can have a chat after training. You don't have to sort of run away from each other."

Hurricanes hooker Coles has been in solid form this year following Hore's departure to the Highlanders and the 25-year-old shapes as a player for the future.

Flynn, 31, might have played his last game in a black jersey given his omission from the two training camps, his injury history and the rise of Elliot who has been impressive for the Chiefs this year.

Mealamu's dodgy calf muscle could keep him on ice for the first test against the Irish in Auckland on June 9, which would likely see Hore start with Elliot on the bench. But Mealamu is expected to be named on Sunday in the 30-man squad to play Ireland, with Elliot as cover.

When Mealamu recovers, New Zealand's two premier hookers will be able to resume their battle to win the start.

- APNZ

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