Woodcock gets ton of praise in century match
MARC HINTON IN WELLINGTON
When Steve Hansen told Tony Woodcock eight years ago he had the ability to go on and become a 100-test All Black, the unassuming loosehead prop shrugged it off as just coach-speak.
But after joining the exclusive New Zealand rugby club of test centurions last night, the 32-year-old was finally able to reflect on those prescient words from his then All Blacks assistant coach.
"To think eight years or whatever ago Shag [Hansen] said to me if you do things right you'll be a 100-test All Black, I didn't believe him. Cheers for that Shag, I'm pretty honoured to be part of the club," Woodcock said after a 27-16 victory that sealed the Bledisloe Cup for a remarkable 11th straight series.
Woodcock was honoured after the game and presented with the special silver cap that marks him as just one of four test centurions in the New Zealand game.
Hansen and skipper Richie McCaw, who has now played a record 118 tests, both also paid tribute to a player who has had a low profile over the years, but always performed at a high level.
"It's no mean feat to play one game for the All Blacks, let alone 100," said Hansen. "He's done it with a lot of class for a long time and I thought we saw him at his best again tonight."
Woodcock played his a part in a dominant All Blacks scrum that was a big part of a second straight victory over the Wallabies.
"Every time you turn up you can rely on the guy," added McCaw. "Woody is someone who's no-fuss, who just goes and does it, and when you've got him packing down you know the scrum is going to go pretty good.
"It's a great achievement. He just loves being here and I think that rubs off on everyone else."
The All Blacks' coaches were also rapt with the test debut of 24-year-old first-five Tom Taylor.
"He was the confident, mature young player we thought he might be. He kicked well, he was assured in everything he did, and you can't ask any more than that from a player making his debut," said Hansen.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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