13 Nov

Season report cards
by Zand Moloney
13 Nov 2004

Time for the boys to get their end of year reports, it makes pretty good reading but ‘must try harder’ comes to mind as falling at the final hurdle is difficult to stomach.

Shannon Paku – needed a big season and delivered, sound under the high ball and effective when he came into the backline. Should push Brent Ward this year for the Canes. 8.5

Lome Fa’atau – undoutably one of the stars of the season, whenever Wellington scored a great try he had something to do with it. Scared the life out of all defences with his speed and guile and his defence was much improved. 9

Sireli Bobo – strong and fast Bobo was effective whenever he was on attack. Not quite the complete package yet but very exciting to watch. 7

Roy Kinikinilau – This should have been the big man’s year, he showed great skill last year but it was missing this time. Looked disinterested and average and deservedly missed out on the Canes this year to former Chief draftee Fa’atau 3.5

Conrad Smith – Outstanding! Smith showed there is still a place for smaller men in the midfield, making up for in vision, agility and speed what he lacks in sheer size. His combination with Nonu was amazing and suggests that there is life after Umaga. 9.5

Ma’a Nonu – A great return to form for Nonu who reminded us all just what he can do. His ability to break the line and off load in tackles was in evidence every week. Not sure about the mascara though.. 9

Tana Umaga – With a self-emposed lay off he looked back to his old self, hitting the line hard and at speed, and he was absolutely everywhere on defence. He pace may have slowed but he is still one of the best midfielders in the world. 9

Tane Tui’pulotu – No rating for the sadly injury ravaged midfielder, hope to see him back to his best for the Super 12.

David Holwell – In his final season Holwell again showed that although he is not flashy he is still an outstanding pivot. Mr Reliable held this backline together for many years and this season was no different. A sad loss for Wellington and New Zealand rugby. 9

Riki Flutey – Is he a halfback or a five eighth? There is no doubt he has a good running game, and generally has good option taking but really he doesn’t have the kicking game required for a top level fly-half. 6.5

Jimmy Gopperth – No rating, didn’t get enough game time for a comment, hope to see more of him in the Super 12.

Piri Weepu – another good season by the former leaguie. His kicking game was much improved and his sniping runs were telling. Not sure if he is ready for an AB’s tour yet but certainly one for the future. 8

Rodney So’oailo – Like fellow former All Black Nonu he needed to step up to prove himself to be a contender and did so. The captaincy made him think more on the field and he grew into a good leader. Good to see him back to his best. 8.5

Kristian Ormsby – His power and strength was a highlight in the early rounds of the NPC and suggested he should have been given more chances to impress. Great with the ball in hand and good in the air, 8

Thomas Waldrom – Did nothing wrong, like Ormsby unlucky not to get more game time. Rarely used at his favoured no 8 position he did well whenever he played. 7.5

Jerry Collins – again was one of the standouts of the pack. Hit the line hard every time and drove players back in the tackle. Needs to think about his tackling technique, but you can never question his commitment. 8.5

Scott Waldrom – troubled by injuires early in the season Waldrom came back strongly and was a major reason for the demolition of Taranaki. Great pace and an eye for a gap he was a key link-man between backs and forwards. 8.5

Ben Herring – again and again had the dirtiest jersey on the park beause of his rummaging around in the rucks, Herring was a constant thorn in many teams sides. Played himself to a standstill sometimes with scant support (particularily against Otago), the Kronfeld to Waldrom’s Jones 8.5

Ross Filipo – needs to work on discipline, good with the ball in hand and in the air, 6

Ross Kennedy – continues to develop at a startling rate. Great with the ball in hand and dominating in the air he should continue to be the first choice for the Canes. A future All Black, 9

Luke Andrews – another good season for the former Southlander. A good man in the lineout and strong defender, forms a good combination with Kennedy, 8.5

Tim Fairbrother – sadly injury robbed him of a chance to continue on from a good season for the Canes. Very strong scrummager, 7.5

Neemia Tialata – showed just what a talent he is this season, never taking a backward step. Learnt some hard lessons in the scrums sometimes which will serve him well, 8

Joe McDonnell – the rock of the scrum, McDonnell’s experience proved a crucial new ingrediant for the Lions. Showed Fairbrother and Tialata what is required at this level, 9

Mahonri Schwalger – a good new addition to the Lions this season. Scrummaged well and threw in effectively. Unlucky to end up on the draft, 8.5

Luke Mahoney – outshone somewhat by Schwalger, Mahoney did little wrong (apart from the odd misthrow). Needs more time to develop, 6

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