Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: Crockett waits year for seventh test

Wyatt Crockett (left), gets in some training with Sam Whitlock before Saturday's clash. Photo / Getty Images
Wyatt Crockett (left), gets in some training with Sam Whitlock before Saturday's clash. Photo / Getty Images

It's been more than a year since Wyatt Crockett played an All Black test, filling in against the Wallabies as he will again this weekend for injured comrade Tony Woodcock.

Crockett's run last year was solid before he was squeezed out by the senior prop's return to health and the balance the selectors wanted in the World Cup squad.

A rib injury has removed Woodcock from Saturday's return Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park giving Crockett the No 1 jersey for the seventh time in tests.

"Obviously Woody is a very experienced member of the forward pack and what he brings with his experience and scrummaging nous will be sorely missed," lock Luke Romano said. "But the man replacing him has been playing some pretty good footy in the last couple of years. I'm sure Crocky will step up for the game.

"He's shown what he can do in Super rugby, he is a great ball-playing prop and scrummages really well so he will be looking to do the simple things well."

The 29-year-old Crockett has been waiting since last August to wear black again and his teammate reckons he will not disappoint.

The squad was back into training yesterday at Waitakere Stadium after a day of recovery work, debriefs and computer analysis of their patchy 27-19 win to start the series in Sydney.

Sorting out the quality of the All Blacks lineout delivery to halfback Aaron Smith had been one of the fix-it missions for the pack.

Romano felt the problems were caused by some average All Black execution and disruption from the Wallabies.

"We look to apply the same sort of pressure on their lineout because if you can disrupt their set piece you go a long way to stopping their attack so you know that is us just being a bit smarter as well to not allow them across to do that to us," he said.

"The lineouts were working good, it was just the delivery off the top. I think we won them all, it was just that last little aspect that was a bit shoddy."

Romano said his first Bledisloe duel had reinforced how accurate everyone needed to be at test level. Any small mistakes were amplified because of the calibre of the players and their skills.

The Wallabies have lost skipper David Pocock to knee surgery and will likely use Michael Hooper as his replacement.

Halfback Will Genia will captain the side in a backline which is heading for multiple changes with the casualties expected to be midfield back Anthony Faingaa and fullback Kurtley Beale.

There are loud noises that Quade Cooper will begin at first five-eighths with Berrick Barnes pushed out a place, Drew Mitchell on the wing and Adam Ashley-Cooper switched to fullback.

- NZ Herald

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