Super 14 draft defies logic
By Gregor Paul
The perplexed look adopted by Blues coach David Nucifora told of the pressing need for New Zealand's Super 14 selection process to be simplified.
The Australian endured his first taste of the process on Thursday last week and, despite walking away with a 28-man squad he was largely happy with, he was still at a loss to explain how he achieved his aim.
He diplomatically said: "It was a long day. But I think the process works. We ended up with the best players and that's always what you want."
It seems to work, though, more by good fortune than good management. The Blues have campaigned for some time now to drop the ruling that teams can only protect 24 players from their franchise area.
They can fill all 28 places from within their franchise and even then they still have to put players into the draft.
The Blues have argued that capping at 24 is arbitrary and punishes Auckland, North Harbour and Northland for developing talent.
This year the Highlanders protected only 17, the Chiefs and Hurricanes 22 and the Crusaders 23.
There were seven Auckland players picked up in the draft.
It is hard to understand the New Zealand Rugby Union's [NZRU] logic in only allowing a maximum of 24 to be protected. That ruling led to a bizarre situation on Thursday where the Blues had to release new All Black Isaia Toe'ava from their squad and take Rua Tipoki instead.
Nucifora had left Tipoki out of the 24, gambling he would retain him through the draft. His plan was thwarted by the intervention of the NZRU.
It seems utterly daft. Here were two players the Blues wanted to select - one developed by Auckland, the other by North Harbour - and a decision is made that Toe'ava has to spend eight months of his life in Wellington.
Yet, while the NZRU were prepared to intervene in the case of Tipoki, other anomalies went through unhindered.
Bradley Mika is now considered a No 8. The Blues couldn't find room for him in that capacity so the Crusaders, where he spent the 2002 season, picked him up.
The Crusaders, though, have All Black No 8 Mose Tuiali'i blocking Mika's way. A talented player with a big future - possibly even at test level as a No 8 - Mika is likely to spend most of the Super 14 season warming the Crusaders' bench.
Many promising players will suffer the same fate but while Mika is riding the pine, the Highlanders will be pressing the veteran Andrew Blowers into service as a makeshift No 8 as Grant Webb has a shoulder injury.
The Crusaders have also selected three specialist opensides in Richie McCaw, Johnny Leo'o and Tanerau Latimer. Again the Highlanders will operate with stretched resources, where Josh Blackie will be covered by Hale T-Pole, a tough blindside who can get by as a seven.
The Blues are convinced that by allowing teams to protect all 28 players if they want, the NZRU would eliminate many vagaries of the process.
But even if that day should come, it will still not protect every player who feels he's got a chance of making it.
This year the big omissions have been Bay of Plenty No 8 Colin Bourke. Drafted by the Highlanders last season, the 20-year-old has missed out altogether this time. As has Danny Lee, the former All Black halfback who signed for Hawke's Bay.
Also missing are Waikato prop Philemon Toleafoa from the Chiefs, Jason Shoemark at the Highlanders and Lifeimi Mafi at the Hurricanes.
Of course if the Naptime Premiership used it, it would be greatest system ever.Originally posted by Black-Monday@Jun 7 2006, 09:57 AM
That draft sounds barmy, while some of the names mean nothing. It still shows a flawed system.
Works for all Major Sports in America.Originally posted by Black-Monday@Jun 7 2006, 09:16 PM
It would never happen in GP rugby. Purely for the fact that we have clubs and not regions. Also I couldn't quite see how the logistics would work. We have transfers when people go out of contract. Best thing to do and easiest to manage.