ABs still on the rise

Reuben Thorne has stated that the All Blacks’ recent clean sweep in Europe is a shadow of what’s to come in 2007.

The former New Zealand captain who led the side in the unsuccessful 2003 World Cup campaign believes that the management have done their homework, and come September the players will be hitting their peak. Following the recent tour to Europe, a host of the players will sit out the first half of the Vodacom Super 14.

“This group of guys [22 protected players] will come out of this conditioning window even better than they are at the moment, and I think we have plenty of points where we can improve and the coaches will tell you the same thing,” Thorne said on his arrival back in Christchurch.

Commenting on the tour, Thorne would have preferred to have more game time. It seems to be the downside to the hugely-successful rotation system, as you are sometimes culled when the management decide to experiment with an untried combination.

“I would have loved to have played more, but that’s the way it is. Everyone knows that’s the way they [the coaches] are running the show with the rotational policy. It means that when guys do get a chance they really get stuck in. That’s the positive side of it. Everyone realises they will not play every week, so when they play they want to make the most of it.

“But just look at the results, it’s not like the team is struggling. You just can’t argue with the results.”

The 31-year-old admitted that he was looking forward to the time off, as 2006 has been a demanding year, and 2007 is set to be even more hectic.

“It’s going to be different not playing at the start of the Super 14, but we’ve got to make the most of the opportunity as well,” he said.