It might just be the most scrutinised annual list in the country. With all apologies to Mr English and his budget, but this is important!
John Afoa (Auckland), Jimmy Cowan (Southland). Wyatt Crockett* (Canterbury), Stephen Donald (Waikato), Andrew Hore (Taranaki), Cory Jane (Wellington), Richard Kahui (Waikato), Jerome Kaino (Auckland), Tanerau Latimer* (Bay of Plenty), Brendon Leonard (Waikato), Keven Mealamu (Auckland), Liam Messam (Waikato), Mils Muliaina (C) (Waikato), Ma'a Nonu (Wellington), Kieran Read (Canterbury), Josevata Rokocoko (Auckland), Isaac Ross* (Canterbury), Conrad Smith (Wellington), Adam Thomson (Otago), Brad Thorn (Canterbury), Neemia Tialata (Wellington), Isaia Toeava (Auckland), Piri Weepu (Wellington), Ali Williams (Auckland), Tony Woodcock (North Harbour), Rudi Wulf (North Harbour).
This is a cautious list, like the budget. It cuts back on overseas options (McAlister). It's waiting for some damaged investments to return to full fitness (So'oialo) while backing others (Leonard). It is wary of previous pitfalls (Lauaki) but it creates some interesting puzzles (who goes where in the loose forwards) and big questions (where's Masaga?).
And like the budget I'm not quite sure how to interpret the overall situation.
I know we'll come out of the internationals unscathed (though maybe with a few injuries) but how we'll fare against the South Africans is uncertain (or the Aussies for that matter).
Occasionally in the action-packed world of blogging I get email, like this one from Robert (please take this as sic though the links are mine).
Mr Green, I usually read Russel, but your previous post about the Champions League, and then this little effort leading with your dissapointment in a chap called McCaw (I think), not starting for a troup known as the, 'All Blacks', caught my attenetion.
I'm a NZ'er in China and have to say your barely hidden envy of Fergie, as a manager of a team that has transmorgrified over the years was petulent, childish, and oh so kiwi.
Get over it, you live in a lovely little country, playing a lovely little sport; decaying as we speak.
As to the 2011 (WORLD CUP?) sideshow, enjoy. I'll be in Chong Qing, with people who are part of a world that was glued to Man C.v.Barca.
Wow, if anything makes you think Manchester United fans are dicks, it's this. I am assuming he's a Man U fan and not a City fan as he implies.
I thought I had already swallowed the rat on this one and admitted to being wrong in saying Sir Alex may be "overrated", but apparently not (for clarity, I was wrong, he is very, very rated). Though it seems I am, naturally, envious of "Fergie" (seriously when I first read this I thought of the former member of the house of Windsor who had her toes sucked by a Texan, remember that? Ahhh the nostalgic past).
The "World Cup" slur is interesting. There are world cups in many sports, but only football is The World Cup. I imagine this is a similar usage of "the" as in Winnie the Pooh. Without my AA Milne at hand I remember Pooh having a rather interesting discussion on the word "the" and how it was used in the context of his name.
"The World Cup", said with a slight 'r' sound at the end of the "the" or with a very pronounced 'eeee'. An 'e' for "exclusivity" if you will.
And just in case I get more angry emails: Well done Black Caps, you beat India (in a 20/20 warm up match)