Hinton: We need All Blacks to bring back gold

MARC HINTON
Last updated 18:35 28/07/2014
Sonny Bill Williams
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COMING HOME TO ROOST: Sonny Bill Williams is currently playing rugby league with the Sydney Roosters.

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There can now be no doubt. Thirty straight Commonwealth Games victories said otherwise; but one glaring defeat wrote the message in neon.

OPINION: New Zealand have to wheel out the big guns for Rio de Janeiro when they go for the first ever Olympic gold medal in sevens rugby. To do anything but is to put at risk the most glorious of opportunities.

So for 2016, the likes of Sonny Bill Williams, Julian and Ardie Savea, Ben Smith, Cory Jane, Charles Piutau, Liam Messam, Steven Luatua, Victor Vito and Aaron Smith - to rattle off just a few - must be considered surplus to All Black requirements. Hopefully, they will have done the job the year before, and a select group can be reassigned to chase further history.

Some - not all, but a healthy chunk - must be handed to Sir Gordon Tietjens with one simple request: bring us back that Olympic gold.

New Zealand's fabulous depth will ensure the All Blacks will roll on with minimal residual effect. But even if there is collateral damage, it must be considered a toll worth paying.

In a funny sort of way, New Zealand's first ever defeat in their tilt at a remarkable fifth straight Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow came as just the setback that may have been needed.

If the New Zealanders had won gold on Monday at Ibrox, the cracks would have been papered over. The fallibility, the vulnerability of this side in an increasingly competitive international sevens environment would not have been laid bare.

But now it has been. DJ Forbes, Tim Mikkelson and company are fine men who have done the country proud playing the game at a certain level. They have carved a fabulous record, and reputation.

But now that standard is set to rise exponentially, and so must the talent level being made available to Tietjens. No rugby player living has tasted the special thrill of winning Olympic gold. That is to change very, very soon.

Some are saying it's just one loss; it's what happens in the shorter form of the game. There are no certainties. It's the nature of the beast. Blah, blah, blah.

The counter-argument must be this: give Tietjens the very best players to prepare properly, and you will remove a very large quotient of that doubt.

The All Blacks play a style of game that translates beautifully to the abbreviated form of the sport. The transition will be a damn sight easier for All Blacks than it will be for Springboks, or Englishmen who don't have the same natural flair in their makeup.

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And when it comes to Olympic gold, sacrifices can surely be made.

That's why Glasgow's sorrow must be considered a form of pain before the gain.

The Olympics are considered sport's most glorious battlefield. New Zealand rugby must dignify that status by unleashing our finest gladiators upon its arena.

That much we now know. 

- Stuff

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