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21 January 2015
On hearing the news that Gareth Anscombe, the former New Zealand Under-20 international, had been included in the first Welsh training squad in the 2015 Rugby World Cup year, got me thinking. While it's sad that New Zealand has lost yet another player to a country off shore it is something we have all had to live with.
The thing is, Anscombe has gone 'first' to Wales to try for a start to his international career. Most of the other top All Blacks who have had time in Wales made the transfer towards the end of their playing days. To cash in - I think the term is!
I only had to flick around a few websites for a few moments - and from my own memory bank - to come up with a more than useful All Black team of relatively recent years who have all had 'reasonably extensive' experience of playing professional club rugby in Wales; (I have put Gareth Anscombe's name in an imaginary 'Welsh-New Zealand team here, as I feel sure the young man, given time, would have come through and had time with the All Blacks.)
Actually when you look at this list he sits in good company...but now he is gone forever. A big rugby decision has been taken by him.
So how's this for a good All Black's 'Welsh' team; Ben Blair (Cardiff Blues), Jonah Lomu (Cardiff Blues), Casey Laulala (Cardiff Blues), Regan King (Llanelli Scarlets), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), Shane Howarth (Cardiff), Justin Marshall (Ospreys); Xavier Rush (Cardiff Blues), Filo Tiatia (Ospreys), Simon Maling (Llanelli Scarlets), Jarrad Hoeata (Cardiff Blues), Marty Holah (Ospreys), Campbell Johnstone (Ospreys), Tom Willis (Newport Gwent Dragons) and Dave Hewett (Llanelli Scarlets)
On the reserves bench would be players of real quality like; Ofisa Tonu'u (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jerry Collins (Ospreys) and Aled de Malmanche (Cardiff Blues).
Of the above only Hewett had minimal time with a Welsh club team; there are others of true original New Zealand extraction and who were internationals (after playing for Wales) who could have been considered too; Like Hemi Taylor (A Maori who captained Wales in the 1990s), Dale McIntosh (another NZ born Maori who had 454 games for Pontypridd and was capped by the Welsh too); while Brett Sinkinson, Sonny Parker and Matt Cardy were also all capped after good provincial careers in New Zealand.
The coaching staff of this imaginary team could of course bring together the 'old firm' of Graham Henry and Steve Hansen. And Warren Gatland might have a say as well!!
The question is; have I left anyone of significance out of my team?
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1 September 1956
The All Blacks win in Auckland, thus taking its first ever test series v South Africa - at last!
On a dramatic day at Eden Park NZ wins 11-5 and takes the 4-test series by 3-1. Peter Jones scored a try and made a great radio speech. He was 'buggered,' he said!
Counties and New Zealand
35 internationals for New Zealand 1977–85
In his time he was New Zealand’s most-capped hooker, Dalton was also the son of an All Black vice-captain (Ray Dalton in 1949).
Andy Dalton did not make his debut for New Zealand until he was 26, but thereafter maintained his place until the World Cup in 1987, when bad luck hit his cup aspirations.
After being named as New Zealand’s captain for the series, he was struck down by a hamstring muscle injury and did not play. Instead, he watched as his replacement, Sean Fitzpatrick, took over and established himself as one of the top players of the series. Even after he had recovered, Dalton could not win back his place in the New Zealand team. He was reserve for the last three matches.
At the start of his career Dalton became New Zealand’s hooker in 1977, taking over from Tane Norton, who had previously played 27 consecutive internationals in that position. Dalton played 35 tests, so only a handful of players played test matches in the No. 2 jersey for the All Blacks over a period of 20 years.
In the absence of Graham Mourie in 1981, Andy Dalton became New Zealand’s test captain for the controversial series against the Springboks. He soon built a reputation as an excellent leader on the field and a diplomatic and sincere one off it. There were many in New Zealand who felt that when Mourie returned later in 1981 Dalton should have continued as captain.
Dalton again took over the leadership after Mourie retired, and captained the team for the test series against the 1983 British Isles, the All Blacks beating the Lions comfortably by four tests to nil. Apart from the times he declared himself unavailable, Dalton maintained the captaincy until the end of his playing days, leading his country in 17 tests for 15 wins.
He was named captain of the New Zealand team to tour South Africa in 1985 but, when that tour was cancelled following court action, he was denied the chance to follow in his father’s footsteps and play in an All Black team in South Africa.
In 1986 Dalton joined the rebel Cavaliers tour of South Africa as the tour captain and it would be true to say that his involvement in the secrecy surrounding the setting up of the tour, and his association with it, cost him something in terms of public acceptance and popularity.
On their return home, Dalton and the other Cavaliers were banned by the NZRFU for two test matches, a decision which arguably did not affect Dalton as he was out with injury anyway – from a badly broken jaw received on the tour.
Andy Dalton played a significant role in New Zealand rugby, as a forerunner in embracing the style of a busy loose forward, without neglecting the tight forward play of a hooker. He was an expert striker for the ball in scrums and an accurate thrower to the lineouts. He was the first New Zealand hooker to become the lineout thrower. Before Dalton, that job was done by wings.
Dalton was one of the All Black front row trio – together with props John Ashworth and Gary Knight – to be nicknamed the ‘Geriatrics’. They played their first test match together in 1978 and their last in 1985 – 20 tests in all.
In the years after his playing days Andy Dalton has played a significant role as the Chief Executive Officer of the Blues professional rugby franchise.
Who played ten tests for the All Blacks - but only in NZ?
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