Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: English won't get sympathy

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When the Blues finish the New Zealand section on Saturday night against the Hurricanes, the All Black selectors need to assess the damage before they make their test choices. Photo / Getty Images
When the Blues finish the New Zealand section on Saturday night against the Hurricanes, the All Black selectors need to assess the damage before they make their test choices. Photo / Getty Images

Some things don't sit right in sport. We've had enough recent examples from cricket to fill volumes 1-10, then there are daft spectators who use laser lights and cyclists who fill their systems with illegal fuel.

And for a second, I felt some compassion for coach Stuart Lancaster having to put a weakened England side into the opening Eden Park test against the All Blacks. That vanished almost immediately.

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My only sympathy is for those who pay strong coin for the opening test knowing they are not watching the real deal but consoling themselves that they are watching the All Blacks in one of two tests they will play at the ground this season.

The rugby media who trail around with the To and Froms, not the coaches, have been grumbling about the itinerary and how the English premiership this weekend eliminates a good chunk of the squad for the Eden Park test.

Perhaps they'd also like to mention that two-thirds of the touring party will be in Auckland on Thursday, resting and preparing for battle while all five New Zealand franchises have to play another round in the Super 15 competition.

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When the Blues finish the New Zealand section on Saturday night against the Hurricanes, the All Black selectors need to assess the damage before they make their test choices.

As discussion about the squeeze in the global calendar grows, so have the competitions.

Had Sanzar kept their series at a manageable 12 teams, there would be room to play a round-robin competition with finals before the intrusion of the June tests.

The bloated Super 15 and extended finals series pushed the tournament into an unsatisfactory break in June to accommodate the incoming test series and the word from on high is there will be no change in the next TV deal with Sanzar.

If we are going to be left with that mess then the deckchairs on the SS Sanzar need to be rearranged.

It is more logical to have the June break near the midpoint of the series rather a slumber party towards the conclusion.

Have 12 games before June and the remaining 10 rounds until the Grand Final after that. Then the Rugby Championship can start in September, roll through October into the end-of-year tours.

That timetable would mean test players starting their break before Christmas and squads getting a longer lead-in time before the start of Super Rugby in March.

Then the NZRU really would have an excuse to avoid playing an All Black test in the Pacific Islands.

- 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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