- By Kevin McCarthy
It must have been about 2004, when I still went to parties. I was talking to an attractive Irish woman – somebody had to – and she was haranguing me about how shit New Zealand was. This being the country she was currently living in, it seemed bold.
But the context was that about that time, economically, New Zealand was as usual muddling through. The Celtic Tiger was roaring. Eight per cent growth a year, with a prime minister proclaiming famously that the Boom Is Getting Boomier. Clever people were looking at how or whether there was some secret sauce. Turns out the secret sauce was being close to Europe and the US, getting big transfers of dosh as a new EU member, plus the general financial looseness of the world, due to come screeching to a halt in 2008.
And of course, the Irish deserved the fruits of growth, through their own smarts. But what my partygoer was exhibiting of course was the thing called hubris. Pride before the fall. At an advanced stage, it’s impossible to conceive how there could be a fall.
Well, will the boom get boomier this Sunday in Paris? Will the Irish make it 18 games in a row, on their way to their world cup final destiny. Or is there any hope they might fall victim to the big H. The sort of condition that once had All Black sides treating matches as lab experiments to play the mythical perfect game.
Sadly, there is no sign of this in the actual team. There’s a whiff of it in the wonderful massive travelling fan show, and a stronger aroma in the widely-publicised analysis of one Derek McNamara, who declared Ireland superior across the pack – and Sam Cane useless at rucking. But most of the Irish punditry is of the no-fear sort of confidence justified by a world number one rank and impressive streak. The sort of way we used to regard the All Blacks.
I do wonder when people describe Ireland as a team with no weaknesses. There will be weaknesses, it’s just they need to be revealed. Doing that is the challenge that multiple teams have failed at. Now it’s New Zealand’s turn again.
Who knows if the All Blacks are up to it. They certainly need to produce the best performance of Ian Foster’s tenure, they need to stay close, and they need to show the 80 minute resilience that they consistently haven’t. Do that and sure, they can.
And then the Boom will get Bustier.
The All Blacks team is below:
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 12, 2023
It wouldn’t be a Fozzie selection without some selection controversy. One is unforced, with Mark Telea stood down for team protocol breach. Now Leicester Fainga’anuku may have been picked anyway, but Telea has spared the panel that quandary.
As for Christie in, Roigard out, well the view from Hurricane land is clear on that one. There is a view that Christie will be a better closer, and Roigard a better impact option. I guess the best option is to not have the All Blacks chasing the scoreboard in the last 20.
What of the other quarters?
I’m going Wales, Fiji, and France. Purely based on dislike of their opposition! Very scientific.
The Lions may have had their squeaky bum moment in the NPC, surviving the late charge of Waikato in their quarterfinal.
Still that epic final stand should give confidence they can take revenge on Saturday at the stadium against the foundation holders of the Lego Ranfurly Shield, Hawke’s Bay.
The sledging in that match should be a treat!