It would be a hard man who didn’t feel the slightest tinge of sympathy for axed All Black scrum-half, Andy Ellis this week. Despite the less than sparkling form of the Crusaders this term, Ellis has consistently played at a standard that would suggest a certain black jersey emblazoned with a large, white 9 would be his for the taking.
Of course, nothing is certain in professional sports and given the sparkling form of TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Aaron Smith, there was always the risk that Steve Hanson might choose this test series against Ireland, a team who history tells us are completely incapable of beating the ABs no matter what the circumstances, to blood the players he sees as the future of the brand. But you would hope that Andy Ellis is a rational man and if such a strategy was deliberately being adopted, he would refrain from too much wailing or gnashing of teeth.
However, you can imagine it would rankle a touch to find himself dumped in favour of Auckland’s most famous bakery patron. Not that many months ago, I could be found wandering the streets bedecked in a t-shirt advising all and sundry to keep calm because Saint Piri was here to save us, but since then things have deteriorated somewhat. I adore Piri for what he achieved, but the simple fact is that if you or I had performed at such a woeful level at our day jobs – including showing up in a physical state that left us incapable of fulfilling the role – we would have been fired long before now. Yet for doing nothing more than not being quite as fat as he was in January, Weepu has been handed one of the fifteen most prestigious jerseys in world rugby.
Well, not quite nothing. In a desperate attempt to minimise the risk of Andy throwing himself from the highest building in Christchurch, Steve Hanson has justified the selection of Piri because of his ‘experience’. Experience is a good get out of jail free card; no one will ever get too grumpy about you having a bit of know-how in reserve for the unplanned moments where things get a little sticky.
Which is exactly what happened with the Aston Martin DB7.
Throughout the 1980’s Aston was spearheaded by its V8 range, which were some of the manliest cars ever made; brutish monsters with a foundry under the bonnet, rear wheel drive and precious little in the way of technology between the two. They were absolutely fabulous – the stuff of comic book fantasies – but the onset of the 1990’s saw a demand for a new level of refinement. English Premier League footballers and celebrities who were famous for no other reason than they attended the right parties started crawling out of every available bit of glitterati woodwork and demanding a suitably suave motor to match their outfits.
Sensing a chance to cash in on the prestige of their badge, the tops boffins at Aston decided the world was ready for a DB7. Their design team had crafted what was possibly the prettiest piece of automotive bodywork in history and now all they required was a chassis on which they could drop it. But rather than go down the expensive route of designing an entirely new unit, they decided to hedge their bets on some proven technology and utilise the chassis from the venerable Jaguar XJS.
In all honesty it was a bit of a strange choice. During the entire production history of the XJS not one of them ran for long enough to prove itself as a good car or otherwise, but in truth it really didn’t matter. The kind of person who bought the DB7 wouldn’t have cared if its roots could be traced back to a Trabant. What that mattered was it was one of the most stunningly beautiful cars ever made and its influence can still be seen in the Astons of today.
So maybe there is method in Steve Hanson’s madness. After all, if the ABs of the future can show a bit of Piri’s passion and swagger, it will certainly have been a risk worth taking. We can only hope that unlike the Aston, his legacy doesn’t stretch to the bodywork.