Reserves itching to get off the bench
Tue, 21 Aug 2012 6:58p.m.
By Jim Kayes
Wyatt Crockett will get his seventh cap when he starts at loosehead prop for the All Blacks against Australia at Eden Park on Saturday, after Tony Woodcock was ruled out today with a rib injury.
The All Blacks say it's too early to know when the veteran of 87 tests will be okay to play again.
The All Blacks lose 81 caps with Crockett replacing the injured Woodock, but rookie lock Luke Romano's confident they'll cope.
"Obviously Woody is a very experienced member of the forward pack, and what he brings with his experience in scrummage nous will be sorely lost, but the man replacing him has been playing some good footy the last couple of years."
That's at a Super Rugby level – there are still question marks over Crockett's credentials as an international scrummager.
As Romano's quickly learned, test rugby is less forgiving.
"It was just how accurate you have to be. If you do any little small thing wrong it gets amplified into a bigger situation."
The All Blacks are keen to be more accurate at Eden Park, while two reserves are hoping they do more than just stretch their legs this week.
"I'm bursting," says Ben Smith. "I got 20 minutes against Auckland in that trial match… so yeah, just really excited about getting back out on the paddock when I get my chance."
"Dan had a good game in the weekend and all the boys are right behind him," says Aaron Cruden. "As I said, I just have to prepare to play so if I'm called on I can do the job."
Only Ben Franks and Brodie Retallick got reasonable game time off the bench, while Piri Weepu and Andrew Hore played for one and three minutes respectively.
"With all the stopping and starting last week, there really wasn't a need to go to the bench because the fatigue factor wasn't such a major thing," says coach Steve Hansen, "but if there's a huge intensity and huge ball in play time then we'll have to use the bench."
Which will be good news for Cruden, Smith and Victor Vito, who failed to get on last week.
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