Maka for Canterbury?
New Zealand
December 5, 1999

When the New Zealand Super 12 2000 squads were announced this week, one of the big surprises was the omission of Otago's ex All Black no 8 Isitolo Maka, writes Huw Turner.

The big 24 year old has endured a miserable 1999 after breaking into John Hart's team in 1998 and making a big impact in a test match in South Africa. Maka has not really recovered from being omitted from the All Blacks training squad at the beginning of the year after he had failed fitness tests at an early season training camp ( the same tests, incidentally, that Jonah Lomu failed! ) He could never force his way back into World Cup contention, an ordinary Super 12 and a poor NPC clearly indicating that his confidence had taken a severe bashing.

Despite his omission from the Otago Highlanders' squad , there are now rumours circulating that he could be drafted into the Canterbury Crusaders squad. They find themselves short of back row strength, Angus Gardiner is playing with Bath in England and it is believed that no 8 Steve Surridge, an All Black tourist to the UK in 1997, is on his way to Japan. So Maka may find himself reprieved, and with the right coaching and management he could yet find himself with a test future.

Critics both before and after the World Cup bemoaned the absence in Hart's squad of a Toutai Kefu - type no 8 - one who could carry the ball forward and beyond the gain line. At his best Maka can do this and frighten the opposition in the process.

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