Can anything go wrong for the Southern Hemisphere giants?
With the Rugby Championship fast approaching, it seems things in New Zealand couldn’t be better.
Following their second consecutive success in the Super 15, the Waikato Chiefs are now without a doubt the strongest Southern Hemisphere club side, with the Auckland Blues and the ever-present Canterbury Crusaders are still as strong as ever. The Crusaders continue to be led by Dan Carter and Richie McCaw, and were unlucky to be defeated in the semi-final by the eventual champions.
Meanwhile, there are reports in Australia that NRL superstar Benji Marshall, arguably one of the best Rugby League players in the world, has signed for Auckland with the intention of making the Kiwi national team.
This can only be a positive; Marshall boasts sublime skills and natural talent and he would certainly add more “spice” to an already formidable All Blacks back-line.
Furthermore, McCaw has recently returned back to Rugby following a six month sabbatical, and will captain the national squad for the up-coming annual tournament against South Africa, Australia, and Argentina.
Argentina still do not have the quality to compete in this tournament, while Australia were slaughtered in the third Lions test, suggesting they are not as strong as previous Aussie outfits.
The South Africans, like the Kiwis, are short of international match practice and will have to be at the top of their game to provide some sort of challenge to the holders.
For these reasons the current World champions are clear favourites to win, and it seems the hardest part for the Kiwis will not be winning their matches, but rather deciding their best team, in particular whether Aaron Cruden has finally done enough to push stalwart Carter onto the bench.
Life for Graham Henry certainly looks quite easy right now.