In only a few days’ time the first whistle will be blown (by George Clancy of Ireland) to start the first of forty-eight games in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The pressure is mounting on the hosts. They have suffered two consecutive defeats in the Tri-Nations, including the humiliating loss to Australia in the final round to see the trophy ripped from their seemingly firm grasp.
They are also attempting to secure the Web Ellis Trophy for only the second time, despite being favourites for practically every World Cup to date. They are also hosting the event in their own back yard so failure is not an option. With all this pressure the All Blacks must be feeling a little nervy.
With new injury concerns in the back row – with cover being provided by second row Sam Whitelock – and a nation out of love with Sonny Bill Williams they are already creating the platform from which to launch their excuses.
In a desperate attempt to boost morale (of club and country) and to avoid the ritual (and habitual) dismissal from the competition they have called in specialist medical cover from the famed Dr Heimlich.
Dr Heimlich, despite his age of 91, is not to be underestimated as a valuable asset to the aspiring 2011 All Blacks Squad. Whilst he may not be called upon until the knock out stages (although he may appear on 24 Sept in the All Blacks v France match) his intimate and expert knowledge of his ‘maneuverer’ may prevent them from choking this year. Only time will tell if this gamble by Graham Henry will pay dividends or simply another round of P45’s…..