By Lee Stace
I, LIKE many, was looking forward to the much-anticipated midfield duel between Ma'a Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams in Wellington this Saturday night.
There I was blissfully rubbing my hands together and counting down the days until the Hurricanes and Crusaders ran out of the tunnel at Westpac Stadium.
Finally, after a lot of smack-talking and debate between their respective fans, we were going to see which of these two behemoths was the premier second five in New Zealand rugby.
Well, that was until Williams was ruled out of the match with a hip injury he picked up during the Crusaders' hard-fought 23-16 victory over the Blues in Timaru at the weekend.
So once again rugby fans worldwide have been denied the chance to see the match-up they have been craving since the Christchurch earthquake put the kybosh on the first meeting between the two sides in round two.
Williams was preferred ahead of the experienced Wellingtonian for the final test against Wales in Cardiff during the All Blacks' Grand Slam tour last year and had also enjoyed a better start to the Super Rugby season.
Whereas Nonu was hampered by suspension and a Hurricanes team going forward in reverse, SBW was reaping the rewards in a star-studded Crusaders backline that was firing like a mentally unstable student on a killing spree.
But in recent weeks, their respective form has leveled out, with Williams slipping slightly and Nonu beginning to rediscover his game-breaking mojo.
The latter, in his final match at the Cake Tin, would have also had plenty to prove to his doubters, after being unceremoniously axed by the Wellington-based franchise last week.
All of which meant the stage was set for a ding-dong battle in which we would find out once and for all who the master and the apprentice was.
For those of you who were wondering, my money was on Nonu to teach Sonny Bill a lesson or two in midfield play.
But, alas, it seems we may never know who is truly the best now.
What do you think? Is Ma'a Nonu a better second five than Sonny Bill Williams?
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.