New Zealand Cup
Flynn plans double celebration
October 24, 2008
Will Flynn get thenod from All Blacks coach Graham Henry? © Getty Images
Canterbury hooker Corey Flynn hopes one long-awaited rugby achievement will be swiftly followed by another as he eyes a second provincial rugby title -- and a recall to the All Blacks all within 12 hours this weekend.
On the outer since the 2004 European tour, Flynn seems to be making all the right moves in order to be the third hooker named on Sunday behind Andrew Hore and Keven Mealamu for the All Blacks end of year tour to Hong Kong, Great Britain and Ireland.
The 27-year-old's cause appears to have been boosted by the naming of an All Black wider training group the day after Canterbury progressed to tomorrow's Air NZ Cup final with Wellington.
When Hawke's Bay's Hikawera Elliot was conspicuously absent last Sunday, it suggested Flynn could have cause for double celebration in the capital.
The current All Blacks' coaching regime has been cool on Canterbury's former Southlander since he played Italy in 2004 as Hore, Mealamu, Anton Oliver and Derren Witcombe have shared the hooking role.
Flynn's stocks have risen since his return from a four-month layoff after breaking an arm during the Crusaders' Super 14 semifinal defeat of the Hurricanes in May. The collision consigned him to the sidelines until round eight of the Air NZ Cup, by which time Ti'i Paulo has established himself as an automatic front row selection.
But Flynn was chosen on the bench against Bay of Plenty on September 18 and was promptly promoted -- a process made easier by Paulo's season-ending knee surgery. Flynn has gradually got back to his bustling best though he admits getting up to speed took some time.
"The lungs are starting to handle it a bit better now," he said. "I've getting a bit of rhythm with a couple of games under my belt."
Flynn was loath to deflect attention from Canterbury's quest to win the provincial crown for the first time since 2004 -- but there is little doubt he has stayed in New Zealand in order to add to his three tests and reprise an international that started at the 2003 World Cup.
"I've done a lot in rugby and the thing that's keeping me here is the chance of an All Black jersey," he admitted. "If it happens, it happens. I can only do what I can."
He looms as a key decision maker for Canterbury at Westpac Stadium, part of a leadership group headed by Kieran Read but one including plenty on input from Flynn and a recently arrived Richie McCaw. It is a role Flynn is relishing after being nursed through to the big time when he was a raw recruit.
"We've got a young crew and obviously the older heads add a bit of stability. I know how important that is -- I've been there myself being a young player -- having the likes of the Reuben Thornes and Justin Marshalls to help you."
Meanwhile, Flynn was not placing too much stock on the fact Wellington have ended Canterbury's title aspiration at the quarterfinal and semifinals stages in the last two seasons. "We haven't spoken about that at all," he said, emphasising Wellington's form this campaign was more relevant considering the two teams did not meet in the regular season.
"That's the beauty of technology -- we've got all their tapes and everything they've done this year. We're focusing on that to find ways of going through them.
"Southland (beaten 28-19 in last weekend's semifinal) showed there's ways to get through them, so did Otago (the only team to beat Wellington this season). They've shown flaws and if we can exploit them it'll be a good night.