Wynne Gray was introduced by Cindy Bakewell. “He’s been involved in journalism since the 1970s, initially at the ‘Auckland Star’ and ‘8 O’Clock’ newspapers as a sports’ writer. He later spent time working for ‘The Sun’ and then the ‘NZ Herald’ -where he spent 30 years as senior rugby writer. During that time Wynne attended 250 Test matches and wrote several books. He is now a Life-member of the ‘NZ Sports’ Writers Association’”.

Wynn believes the early season matches with Tonga and Fiji are valuable as they clearly show coaches where improvements must be made before sterner opposition is encountered. He acknowledged that the All Blacks have ‘stacks’ of talent, are very athletic and very fit – but wondered if they’d be up to the challenges of the ‘Boks’ and Northern Hemisphere teams later in the year.

Fiji, coached by the talented Vern Cotter, have been a real surprise, especially at the breakdown where they worried the ABs and given All Backs’ coach, Ian Foster and his assistants, plenty to work on this week.

In Wynne’s opinion, Ian Foster faces a critical year as do the NZ Rugby Football Union (NZRFU) and wonders whether he is ‘up-to-the-task and can fulfill the rugby public’s expectations. The Rugby Union needs to be more positive and pro-active as it is the administrator of our sport and, accepting that millions of dollars are needed to run the sport, a decision must be made soon as to where that money will come from.

Wynne expressed some disappointment with current TV commentators and would like greater analysis and perhaps fewer of ‘yesterday’s players’ in commentary roles.

The three key current All Blacks are Aaron Smith (9), Richie Mo’unga (10) and Anton Lienert-Brown (12). The ‘Blues’ contingent, he feels, have been underwhelming and there’s no way that Reiko Ioane is a centre, “…play him on the wing”, he said, “..because he doesn’t pass the ball”.

Two problems he identified in the ‘modern’ game were: 1) The offside rule, which is not being policed as sit should be and 2) the breakdown after a tackle, which is incredibly confusing for us all.