Lion's tour: Chiefs coach Dave Rennie calls on 10-year-old to pick team

Sam Webb, 10, with Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, together announce the Chiefs team to play the Lions at a media conference ...
HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

Sam Webb, 10, with Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, together announce the Chiefs team to play the Lions at a media conference in Hamilton on Sunday ahead of a Chiefs training session.

After keeping his lips tightly sealed to days of probing questions – some from inquisitive Chiefs players – 10-year-old selector Sam Webb on Sunday read out his squad to play the Lions.

When Sam sat alongside coach Dave Rennie to announce the Chiefs to take on the British and Irish tourists on Tuesday, his words were live streamed to news websites and recorded by journalists.

He and Rennie collaborated on the side, after the Goodwood Primary School outside back got in touch weeks ago, concerned the Chiefs would be without its All Blacks and Maori players for the Lions.

Sam left a message for Rennie, who was so intrigued he called back. And a partnership was formed.

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He and Rennie largely agreed on the squad, Sam said.

"We had no arguments at all, I just told him my team," he said, flourishing a scrawled team sheet.

"He wrote it down, and then he's taken it here, and he's kind off transformed it a bit … that's only one player different to my team."

Once the selection was made, his troubles began. His rugby coach Mark Wood wanted the inside info. Sam did not tell.

On Friday he was invited to a Chiefs training, where all the players were asking "Am I in?" Sam did not tell.

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But people were keeping secrets from Sam as well. He did not know he was going to announce the team on Sunday.

His father, Micah, told him it was time he saw the dentist, and to sweeten the outing, said he had jacked up an appointment with the Chiefs dentist.

"You might see one of the Chiefs players," Webb told Sam. Sold. In the car they got.

And when he found out his starring role?

"He flipped his lid, he blew his mind at that point," Webb said.

To say Sam knows his rugby is an understatement; after the team announcement he spent time talking selections and tactics with former Lions No 10 Stuart Barnes, now a correspondent for The Times and a Sky commentator.

Barnes looked interested and intrigued, not patronising.

Having picked his squad, Sam has now turned his mind to tactics. Lions coach Warren Gatland, look away now, please.

"We've got to try to snip at their strong defence," Sam said.

"You saw what they did to the superstar backline against the Maori All Blacks. I get (first-five Stephen Donald) to run it straight.

"When he's running it up and they think he's just going to run it up, spread it out wide to Nanai-Williams, then out to Toni Pulu, then he can have a run."

Sam is confident the Chiefs can topple the Lions, even without several stars, "we have so much talent".

Long term, he doesn't see himself as a selector. He wants to play fullback for the Chiefs.

"That would be my dream."

Best he call up Rennie and ask to wear 15, before the coach departs for Glasgow.

 - Stuff

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