Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Jane returns with balance and timing

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Cory Jane. Photo / Getty Images
Cory Jane. Photo / Getty Images

Flamenco is one of the expressive art forms which fill the Argentine landscape. Inhabitants dote on the mix of intricate moves, patience and footwork, qualities rugby spectators would have lauded when they watched All Black wing Cory Jane weave his magic yesterday at the Estadio Ciudad de la Plata.

Jane does not measure up to the statistics chart built on the majority of wings wearing the black jersey in the last two decades.

Men like John Kirwan, Jonah Lomu, Inga Tuigamala, Tana Umaga, Doug Howlett, Joe Rokocoko and Sitiveni Sivivatu have fitted that brief more than those like Jeff Wilson or Eric Rush. More recently Julian Savea and Hosea Gear have worn the XL jerseys as the search continues for big men with speed and dexterity.

However, Jane's reappearance for the Rugby Championship has lifted the side's venom after he missed the June series because of an ankle injury.

Jane's balance, timing, whipcord strength and instincts were all on display yesterday as he clicked over three more tries in his 37th test.

He has a life motto of "it's not how you start, it's how you finish".

He stayed with that catchcry as he roamed the stadium, secure on defence and defusing the Pumas' aerial probing, while using his timing and instincts.

Jane stayed on his opposite wing to support Kieran Read's thrust for his first try, loomed up outside Julian Savea for his second and then added some real magic for his last.

The 29-year-old was caught out a little in defence but claimed an intercept before dashing 50m as he fended off defenders. Sports observers talk about players with fast twitch fibres, quick hands or others whose reactions seem faster than others.

This time Jane's feet did the dancing as he accelerated from a standing start with his choppy gait and then outstripped the chasers for the All Blacks' final try.

The All Blacks were strong across the park, once they got past an awkward beginning to each half.

This time they got their ideas working, as they countered the Pumas pack and then got the ball away from contact to outfox their hosts with sweeping moves, changes of attacking angles and interplay.

You could find any number of players who merited applause. This was a cohesive team production after all the challenges of travel, coping with a huge time change and a new environment.

It has set up a compelling final contest in the inaugural series when the All Blacks continue their Marco Polo work to play the Springboks on Sunday in Soweto.

The Boks beat the broken Wallabies into submission and captain Jean de Villiers said the Boks' expressive style had been their target all year.

Those who have seen more of their work would dispute that claim but there was a new purpose created by five-eighths Johan Goosen and others.

- NZ Herald

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

Read more by Wynne Gray

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