Todd Blackadder rates omitted Wyatt Crockett
TONY SMITH AND RICHARD KNOWLER
Wyatt Crockett's World Cup omission has done nothing to change Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder's opinion that he is the world's best loosehead prop.
Crockett declined to comment yesterday, although he indicated he would be at Canterbury training tomorrow, and would be happy to speak then.
Blackadder said last night he knew Crockett would be hurting, but he insisted the front rower should be "really proud" of his Tri-Nations performance.
"He has proved he can perform at that level. But [the All Black coaches] have probably just gone for Tony Woodcock's experience, and he's never let them down." Blackadder said during the Crusaders' Super rugby campaign that Crockett was the best loosehead prop in the world, and he said last night he had not seen anything in the Tri-Nations arena to alter that view.
"I defy any prop to get around the field as well as Crocky does," he said.
Blackadder said Crockett was "too tough" to let his World Cup non-selection set him back.
He said the 28-year-old had "really turned his game around and I think he still has a great future".
All Blacks forwards coach Steve Hansen said in Brisbane yesterday Crockett had "done everything he possibly could".
"In our opinion, we think Tony Woodcock is a better prop, probably in the area of scrummaging.
"It was a close run thing, but Woody has been there, done that and he has shown us he can do it time and time again in the highest arena. It is unfortunate for Wyatt – there is not enough room.
"Woody has shown that if he is not the best loosehead prop in the world, he is one of two."
Hansen said the scrum penalties conceded by Crockett in the Bledisloe Cup test against Australia had not counted against him, and the selectors had told the Canterbury man he had done all he could.
Blackadder urged Crockett to keep his head up, because he could be "only one injury away" from making the squad if a front row casualty occurred.
The All Blacks' loss could be Canterbury's gain. Crockett will resume training with Canterbury tomorrow, and could be available for selection for the final ITM Cup round-robin match against Otago in Dunedin on Saturday.
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