The Whiteboard: the brilliant vision of Conrad Smith

"The noticeable happening while the pass was thrown from Taylor to Savea was the sight of the Hurricanes skipper running like the clappers back toward his own corner..."

“The noticeable happening while the pass was thrown from Taylor to Savea was the sight of the Hurricanes skipper running like the clappers back toward his own corner…”

ESPNscrum.com: There were only 15 tries scored across the six games in Round 10, and seven of them – well, six and a penalty try – came in the Hurricanes-Blues clash that opened the round. Picking a candidate for the Whiteboard was surprisingly difficult, but the one I have picked says so much about a wonderful player.

All Blacks centre, and Hurricanes Captain, Conrad Smith, has long been one of my favourite players simply because there’s no grey areas in the way he plays, or how he conducts himself. In this cliché-riddled world of professional sport, Smith’s post-match comments especially can be notoriously honest, almost brutally so in times of defeat.

He’s much the same on the field, too. There’s just no nonsense about him and it’s rare to see him walking off the field having given anything less than 100%. He doesn’t always get the plaudits he deserves, yet he’s one of the most important players in the various teams he plays for. He’s not the flashiest of players, either – he almost stands out now because he’s one of the few still wearing black boots – yet he always comes up with the right play in the crucial moments, be that in attack or especially in defence.

And it was Smith’s incredible, brilliant vision, and the aforementioned ability to always come up with the right play, that won out in today’s selection for the Whiteboard in the end.

Brumbies primed for ANZAC Day rematch with Chiefs

The Brumbies will wear this special commemorative strip in their GF rematch with the Chiefs...

The Brumbies will wear this special commemorative strip in their Grand Final rematch with the Chiefs…

ESPNscrum.com: In the shadows of the Australian War Memorial, the iconic museum chronicling Australia’s military history over more than a century, Brumbies’ scrumhalf Nic White is trying his best to maintain that it’s just another game. But we can see the grin on his face, and so he quickly stops pretending.

“They won the Grand Final, and we didn’t,” White says, of facing off against the Chiefs on Friday evening at Canberra Stadium. The match against the Chiefs is the first of what the Brumbies hope will become a regular trans-Tasman clash in Canberra on ANZAC Day. And of course, it’s also the first rematch between the two sides since the 2013 Super Rugby decider.

“I don’t know if ‘revenge’ is the right word or not, but it’s definitely something that burnt blokes for a good six months until we could get back into Super Rugby,” White says of the 27-22 loss in Hamilton. “It’s a chance for us to… it certainly won’t bring back the feeling of winning a Grand Final, but it’s a small step.”

Read the rest of my ANZAC Day piece for ESPNscrum here

Respect: New Zealand recognising Australia’s rugby growth

Rebels Captain Scott Higginbotham reaches out to score against the Western Force on Friday night. The rise of the two newest sides makes the Wallabies a dangerous prospect, according to Sky Sport NZ commentator, Grant Nisbett. Image: ABC Grandstand

Melbourne Rebels Captain Scott Higginbotham reaches out to score against the Western Force on Friday night. The rise of the two newest sides makes the Wallabies a dangerous prospect, according to Sky Sport NZ commentator, Grant Nisbett. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: Yesterday’s chat on ABC Grandstand Digital with Al Crombie and Grant Nisbett was too good not to share, and particularly Grant’s comments around the changing perceptions and growing respect in New Zealand around where Australian rugby is currently placed.

‘Competition for places’ is something we’ve heard from all the Australian Super Rugby coaches this year, but in 2014 it seems like something we might be hearing from Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie, too…

ABC Grandstand: Super Rugby chat with Grant Nisbett

Western Force winger Nick Cummins - aka 'the Honey Badger' - has been in outstanding form, and it's being noticed in NZ, too. Image: ABC Grandstand

Western Force winger Nick Cummins – aka ‘the Honey Badger’ – has been in outstanding form, and it’s being noticed in NZ, too. Image: ABC Grandstand

ABC Grandstand Digital: a bit of a thrill this morning to be part of Grandstand Breakfast’s rugby panel with weekend host, Al Crombie, where on the line from over the ditch was the voice of New Zealand rugby himself, Grant Nisbett.

‘Nisbo’ was great to talk to, as was always going to be the case, and it turned out to be a really interesting chat about the state of play in both the Australian and New Zealand conferences of Super Rugby, as we near the halfway mark of the season. With thanks to ABC Grandstand once again, you can hear the clip here…