So where are we at?
To me, while I have always loved Graham Henry, I think it is time for him to go. He has had a great career, won many titles, began the Welsh revival; but with the Lions and AB's he did not quite scale the heights of rugby immortality. Wayne Smith will not coach them again. I think it is Robbie Deans time. He is the man of the moment, he is at his peak, he is poised. We missed John Hart when it was his moment, he getting his chance 10 years too late. Perhaps the same is true of Graham Henry who should have coached the AB's after his glorious time with Auckland. John Mitchell was 10 years too early. Deans is ready! Don't let the Aussies have him.
What about the players? Mils is off and Leon M has had his day. Perhaps Corey Jane from Wellington will get his chance now. Doug is off, but the Fijians are ready to go and Smith is waiting in the wings. Hamilton and Hosea Gear are also good.
At centre we have good options, Tuiava, Smith and Nonu. In the midfield we are losing both Mauger and sadly Luke M, who to me is a brilliant player, who will only get better as he matures. Second five will be interesting in 2008. This is wide open to me. Perhaps Tuiava will be 2nd five and one of the others centre.
Daniel Carter, Nick Evans, Stephen Donald, Stephen Brett; we have first fives everywhere; excellent depth.
Byron chose the right time to go, he to me has never quite scaled that final summit of greatness; a fine player, but not quite a Gregan or Farr-Jones. Leonard, Wipu, Ellis; we have no problems at half back.
Nos 8 is still strong with So'oialo, Luaki, Tualii, Williams, Mika and others. Similarly the flankers with McCaw, Masoe, Collins, Latimer and others.
Locks are strong with Williams, Robinson, Eaton, Flavell, Ryan and young guys.
Props are strong with Haymen going but we still have Sommerville, Woodcock, Tialata and young guys coming through like Jamie Mackintosh.
At hooker we are losing Oliver but still have Mealamu, Hore and a host of others.
The truth is, we are still very strong.
To me the key is to forget the World Cup and seek to be the best team in the world as of the first game from the World Cup. We pick and A team of 22 and as injuries come, and they will, we build. We play week in week out. There needs to be space given for recovery and full restoration of fitness each year, but not during Super 14's, TriNations or other key events. We need to focus on the World Cup in the few months before it not now! Let's enjoy the time between and make the most of it. Let's develop mental strength, learning to win, to lose and to battle in adversity. Let's trust our depth and not worry about trying to create it, we actually have the greatest depth in the world.
Let's not worry about the Cup, who cares! We will deal with that when it comes. So bring on the Super 14 and 2008.