should have been a No10 sideshow, not the No1 event.

While Carter was hogging the headlines as the Comeback King, thanks to those mysterious Laureus awards in Berlin, two of his brilliant potential successors have been preparing for a showdown in comparative obscurity.

Grandiose Apples v Oranges award ceremonies with the rich and famous drooling over each other leave me cold. Aaron Cruden v Beauden Barrett is what footy is all about.

It says much for the shoddy state of Super Rugby and its ridiculous expansion effort that the prospect of the Hurricanes and Chiefs running each other off their feet feels like it is out of puff before the game starts.


Saturday night's contest in Wellington might be a classic, and at least help the public decide on the No10 battle even if the All Black selectors have got their choice in setting concrete.

Super Rugby is a dud which is failing to properly showcase the brilliant new talent which abounds.

And there has never been a battle for the test No10 jersey to match the log jam of star performers available now.

None of the test No10 candidates will come close to equalling the confidence in Carter's goalkicking and pinpoint restarts, but his attacking horizons were limited in recent years.

Cruden, Barrett, Damian McKenzie and to a lesser extent Lima Sopoaga offer running and other attacking potential that can take the All Black game to a new level. Steve Hansen, Grant Fox and company must be itching to let their new-look side loose on world rugby, even if there will be the odd hiccup bedding the new combinations in.

Yes, Carter at his best was an extraordinary sight and injuries cut him down, including during the 2011 World Cup.

But in later years he got away with hobbling around the field because of the quality of players around him, from Aaron Smith, Ma'a Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams to those amazing forwards led by the likes of Richie McCaw, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock and Jerome Kaino. He also got a leg up from some rather ordinary opposition late last year.

In the end, Carter's head for the World Cup heights was perfect for the erratic standards of the 2015 world tournament. But the time was overdue to let him go.

Boks logo must go

Once again ... it is time to scrap the Springboks rugby logo which is a tragic symbol of oppression and racism. Planet Rugby has reported a fresh political initiative to re-name the South African national side as the Proteas, and that needs to happen.

I don't believe Nelson Mandela embraced the Springboks jersey willingly at the 1995 World Cup, after the abhorrent apartheid system was overthrown in the early 1990s. I suspect he probably did so fearing that to move too quickly could cause his beloved nation to implode.

But the Springboks must be consigned to history. It is a black mark against World Rugby that the game's ruling body did not enforce this change long ago.

Charismatic Clough

Leicester City's quite unbelievable bid to win the English Premier League has drawn inevitable reminders of another fairytale football story, that of Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest who rose from nowhere to win a first division title and two European Cups nearly 40 years ago. I'll leave it to others to make any comparisons, but one thing is certain - no manager will ever match the charisma, wit and bluster of Clough. His deeds have filled a few books and inspired documentaries and a film.

One anecdote involved his little midfielder Archie Gemmell. Having been left out on one occasion, Gemmell approached Clough.

"I'm not happy," Gemmell stated.

"Well, which one are you then?" replied Clough.

As for the title race, Tottenham Hotspur will probably pip Leicester.

Kiwis have depth

In days past, the loss of a player like Roger Tuivasa-Sheck would have been a disaster for the Kiwis.

It is still a big loss, but coach Steve Kearney has so much depth at his disposal that the Kiwis could still be slight favourites for the league test at Newcastle on May 6.

And Australia have a few problems - Greg Inglis is off his game while Captain Immaculate Cameron Smith has struggled with unusual errors at NRL level for the Storm.

Connecting brands to fans

Former Wallaby and Kangaroo back Lote Tuqiri was on the blower this week, promoting his new "social influencer platform" HooZu by releasing some findings around NRL players.

According to Tuqiri, Kiwis are to the forefront when it comes to influencing their audience even though they don't necessarily have the most followers on Twitter etc.

According to algorithms on "engagement, response, key words and fan relevancy", Tuivasa-Sheck is top of the influencing pops. He is followed by fellow Kiwi star Shaun Johnson, South Sydney's English forward George Burgess, injured Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, and Wests Tigers veteran Robbie Farah.

Tuqiri will turn his algorithms towards the All Blacks at some point, but one man already stands out. Carter has a combined following over two million using Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook Like figures. Next best is Nonu, with about 360,000.

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