Henry hushed over Super rugby plan - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Henry hushed over Super rugby plan

By Daniel Gilhooly 20/09/2010 04:28:18 PM Comments (0)

Given the Rugby World Cup disaster of 2007, it's little wonder New Zealand coach Graham Henry isn't keen to discuss his player welfare hopes for next year's Super competition.

Henry, All Blacks management and key figures from New Zealand's five Super rugby franchises started a two-day meeting in Wellington on Monday to formulate a plan that suits all parties in managing top players through to the RWC late next year.

Pulling 22 leading players out of the first half of the 2007 Super 14 backfired badly on Henry. Stakeholders accused New Zealand of devaluing the competition while many blamed the rest period for the All Blacks' subsequent World Cup failure.

Henry fudged his answers when asked what proposal he would put to the franchises this week to manage player workload in the extended Super 15.

"We're marrying our ideas so we come back with one team approach really - an All Blacks and franchise team approach so we both benefit as best we can," he said.

The same parties will reconvene in December to discuss finer details.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder stood alongside Henry during a short media briefing and said all the right things.

"The Super rugby coaches are very much behind the All Blacks and we want them all to be successful," he said.

"We've got our own competition that we'd like to win but .... we want the All Blacks to win the World Cup, these two days are to make sure we're aligned and everyone's really happy."

Blackadder said expanding the squad sizes from 28 to 32 next year would make player rotation easier.

Meanwhile national selectors will consider ditching a backup hooker and halfback from their year-end tour squad to make room for more World Cup fringe contenders in the five Tests in Hong Kong and Europe.

Henry said the prospect of taking just two hookers and two halfbacks was a genuine option.

"It's just there's so many players that we think need an opportunity, taking three hookers and three halfbacks will decrease that possibility.

"(Prop) John Afoa can play hooker, that could come into the equation. Maybe there's another back in the squad who can play halfback at a pinch."

Henry said it was "a possibility" that young five-eighth Aaron Cruden and Colin Slade could both tour as backups to first-choice No.10 Daniel Carter.

There may also be a desire to bolster the loose forward stocks in the ongoing search for a flanker lieutenant to captain Richie McCaw.

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