Just a matter of time before Braid's in black

Last updated 05:00 19/05/2013
Luke Braid
LUKE BRAID: Is an All Blacks contender despite missing the wider training squad.

Relevant offers

All Blacks

Focus crucial for All Blacks to beat Boks Mehrtens: Give back-up midfield pair a try Coles rejoining All Blacks after becoming a dad Malakai Fekitoa desperate to battle Springboks Rookie rake passing precious prize to parents All Blacks vs Argentina: Player ratings All Blacks off to Johannesburg with a swagger Steve Hansen finds no faults with All Blacks All Blacks secure Rugby Championship crown All Blacks v Argentina: You rate the match

Luke Braid's stocks are on the rise.

After being left out of the All Blacks' 38-man wider training squad announced last week, it would be easy to assume, despite his strong form, the Blues' forager wasn't in the national picture.

The truth is he is next in line.

The inclusion of only one openside, Sam Cane, was the major talking point of Steve Hansen's first muster, which gets under way in Mt Maunganui today.

Naming 10 uncapped players created interest but, given the importance of the role, Cane's lonely status was perplexing.

The Chiefs' seven has justifiably retained the right to again don Richie McCaw's jersey with the All Blacks captain on leave until after next month's three-test series against France.

Until now, there was uncertainty about the next deputy. The Crusaders' Matt Todd and Cane's five-test team-mate Tanerau Latimer were also in contention.

Hansen has kept his cards close to his chest by leaving out the trio, feeling he would benefit more from casting an eye over blindside flankers Steven Luatua and Brad Shields, rather than players he already understood.

"We've only taken one [openside] to the camps because we know the other three candidates really well and we don't see the urgency to bring them in," Hansen told Sunday News last week.

In life, and sport, there is always a need for a contingency plan.

Cane missed Friday's clash against the Hurricanes in Wellington with a back strain. And there are no guarantees he will survive the French onslaught.

Hansen and fellow selectors Ian Foster and Grant Fox are yet to decide whether to carry one or two opensides next month, but if a second is deemed necessary, or if Cane succumbs to injury, it seems Braid will get the call-up to follow in his brother's footsteps.

"We haven't confirmed in our own minds whether we'll take one or two into the June series. If it's two we'll have to pick one other. For me personally it's probably Luke Braid at the moment," Hansen said.

"He's playing really well. He's got a good head on him.

"He's strong over the ball and he understands the game really well."

Hansen hinted the decision would hinge on Cane proving his versatility. During the two camps it appears he will be asked to become familiar with the other loose forward roles, enabling the squad to carry more openside cover.

"Richie can sometimes play eight or six," Hansen said. "That lets you carry another seven. Do we want to do that with Cane? That will be a discussion closer to the time. If that's the case we'll take two if not we'll take one."

Ad Feedback

The prospect of an All Blacks debut is both confirmation Braid has been in career-best form this season, and that Todd has slipped down the pecking order after being called into camp to cover McCaw's foot injury during the World Cup.

Last year Braid was a surprise choice to captain the shambolic Blues. It was an unfair task for a young man, but it also adds to Hansen's endorsement of his knowledge and maturity. Without the captaincy burden Braid has thrived. He's been at the forefront of the Blues' hunger and has clearly impressed those who matter.

Either way, Braid's time in a black jersey will come.

- Sunday News

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who was your All Blacks man of the match from the Pumas test in La Plata?

Wyatt Crockett

Keven Mealamu

Owen Franks

Brodie Retallick

Sam Whitelock

Jerome Kaino

Richie McCaw

Kieran Read

Aaron Smith

Beauden Barrett

Julian Savea

Malakai Fekitoa

Conrad Smith

Ben Smith

Israel Dagg

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content