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October 13, 2011

Posted on 10/13/2011

Stricken tankers and flankers

The Rena tanker stuck on a Bay of Plenty reef and Richie McCaw's troublesome right foot © Getty Images

Two contrasting stories have dominated the New Zealand media for much of this week with both issues granted widespread coverage and in-depth analysis across all platforms.

'Broken and doomed' trumpeted the New Zealand Herald on Thursday morning alongside a picture of the cargo ship MV Rena that ran aground on a reef in the Bay of Plenty last week but it could have easily been talking about New Zealand captain Richie McCaw. The All Blacks' talisman remains under an injury cloud ahead of his side's Rugby World Cup semi-final clash with Australia and his plight claimed a fair share of the broadsheet's front page under the headline - 'Down & Out?'.

The Liberian-flagged container ship was carrying 1700 tonnes of fuel when it crashed into the Astrolabe Reef off the country's north east coast and has already leaked a reported 380 tonnes into the ocean with that number growing by the hour as authorities bid to tackle 'New Zealand's worst marine environmental disaster'. Pictures of the stricken vessel, oil-soaked wildlife and the rescue effort are accompanied by diagrams explaining the problems faced by rescue workers. Experts also offer input on how to deal with the spill and the rapidly disintegrating ship while others forecast woe for the wildlife and local tourism industry.

McCaw's plight is attacked with equal vigour and similar themes. Instead of an environmental disaster the All Blacks' World Cup future is what is at threat while in the place of salvage crews and marine conservationists and we have team-mates offering assurances and surgeons advising McCaw to sit out this weekend's semi-finals. And in the place of distressing pictures of birds that never really had a chance there are equally depressing (for New Zealand rugby fans) pictures of those 'already crocked' - Dan Carter, Colin Slade and Mils Muliaina.

McCaw's troublesome right foot is granted the same graphic treatment as the infinitely bigger but obviously less hardy Rena. Diagrams offer clarification as to where the screw inserted during surgery earlier this year can be found in his foot while a life-size offering of the medical aid attempts to hammer home the discomfort being felt by one of the All Blacks' shining lights.

A lot of questions remain unanswered in both cases with the Rena still perilously perched on the reef with its containers and oil slowly but steadily emptying into ocean while McCaw continues to sit out of training ahead of the showdown with the Wallabies on Sunday. But at least the All Blacks and their fans will have their answer in the next couple weeks with their World Cup campaign set to end in one of two ways when a fresh and more-detailed breakdown of every factor will be presented. The fate awaiting the residents, wildlife and businesses of what it is feared may stretch to 100km of coastline is not so clear and closure appears some way off.



Posted Craig on 10/13/2011

One of the best all round RWC blogs out there Graham. Still waiting on the Chch Boys' High piece promised earlier.

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Graham Jenkins joined Scrum in 1999 and took over the reins for a second time in 2006. His journalistic career has also seen him work for BBC Sport and IMG and he currently lives with his family in Farnham. Graham Jenkins

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