On the back of the All Black’s 47 – 29 demolition of the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday evening, coach Steve Hansen has announced a sweeping new selection policy designed to further cement the All Blacks dominance on world rugby. Starting from the end of year tour, only players with the surname of Smith will be picked for the honour of wearing the black jersey.
“It’s quite simple really,” Hansen said in explaining the changes, “Over the past 12 months our most consistent players have been Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Conrad Smith. If it was just two Smiths I’d call it a coincidence, but three clearly means there’s a scientific trend going on here.”
It’s hard to find fault with Hansen’s logic. Ben Smith picked up a hat-trick of tries in a faultless display on the wing while Conrad Smith added a try of his own to go with his usual clinical defence. While live-wire halfback Aaron Smith didn’t collect any points himself, his ability to point at the bottom of the ruck and trick the referee into awarding non-existent penalties was crucial throughout the night.
Unsurprisingly, the announcement has gone down well in rugby circles with rugby journalist Mark Reason calling it a “stroke of genius. The Welsh have been doing this for years, picking as many players called Jones as they can, so it’s apparent that Smith is the name that works and carries a certain mana for the All Blacks.”
Hansen’s decision gives hope to players such as David Smith, dubbed by the NZ Herald’s Chris Rattue in 2006 as rugby’s “next big thing” who, after unsatisfying stints at the Hurricanes, Blues and Western Force, decided it was all too hard and left from France. David is reported to have already booked tickets back to New Zealand saying, “I’m so grateful to have been given this second chance, I never could be bothered working on my defensive and aerial weaknesses like Julian Savea has, so it’s great to see him tossed aside like this.”
When asked if the policy of picking players named Smith could also be applied to the coaching staff and see the return of former All Blacks and current Chiefs assistant coach Wayne Smith, Steve Hansen appeared not to reply, instead preferring to scratch his nose with his middle finger.