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What goes up

New Zealand's sporting firmament is a-glitter with talent but burn-out is never far away.

Sporting stardom will always be fleeting, with new faces elevated into the stratosphere all too quickly by fans - and the media - overeager to crown the next big thing.

Of course, some are to the manor born, glittering talents who rise above the cloying adulation, although even they can struggle to live up to the expectation placed on them.

Today's New Zealand sporting firmament has a good supply of elite performers who even enjoy a degree of permanence in their lofty position.

For some time now, rugby union has been able to feed off Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter, both adept at coping with the pressures such status brings. They are established and enduring stars capable of overcoming the occasional off-colour performance with their reputations intact.

Cricket is similarly blessed with Daniel Vettori, and Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor fit the mould as well, although both can self-combust at times, such is their volatile talent.

Move to rugby league and New Zealand has wonders in winger Manu "The Beast" Vatuvei and the marvellously gifted Benji Marshall. Vatuvei thrills through his mix of power, pace, size and a healthy appetite for scoring tries. What's more, he has overcome self-doubt and adversity to become so consistent, and Marshall can be a match winner when he's on.

New Zealand football can look to captain Ryan Nelsen and netball to Irene van Dyk and Casey Williams, all brilliant athletes the public are drawn to watch. In individual sports, shot-putter Valerie Vili, although a bit below her best at present, rower Mahe Drysdale and motor racing driver Scott Dixon are among the stars.

It's a fair list. Yet there are always people impatient for someone new to join the throng, which can be unsettling for the incumbents.

Everyone in rugby union was raving about Isaac Ross last year, but now he's well out of the All Black scene. This year's hope is Aaron Cruden, who can't escape the hype. Does he have the wherewithal to cope with it?

Similar clamour has surrounded ­cricketer Kane Williamson. Poor kid - he had a duck in his one-day international debut. In rugby league, baby-faced Kevin Locke has had the glare of the spotlight on him during a challenging season.

In years past some had difficult starts to their top-level careers, among them two of New Zealand cricket's most exceptional players, Sir Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe. They survived and flourished. Others weren't so lucky, cast aside after careers that failed to lift off despite their natural gifts.

Selectors and sporting organisations are routinely criticised by the ill-informed for failing to promote young talent soon enough.

But erring on the side of caution - or patience - is far more likely to succeed than rushing in only to see a new face fade because he or she wasn't ready to handle the dazzle super-stardom brings with it.