Ma’a Nonu has a broken arm and is out injured for the rest of 2014. Losing a player of Nonu’s calibre with an injury to his gun would be difficult for most teams, but when the All Blacks have depth then it will be interesting to see who is Nonu’s replacement. Who do you think should replace Ma’a Nonu in the All Blacks Number 12 jersey?
Firstly, Sonny Bill Williams is the obvious candidate for the role with his return to rugby union in time for the Northern Hemisphere Autumn Tour in November, but there are still two test matches left in The Rugby Championship 2014 and SBW won’t be able to play every game on the tour.
Apart from Sonny Bill Williams who are the other options? It will be interesting to see if the selectors go for a specialist Number 12 even if it means picking from outside the current All Blacks squad or if the selectors will give a player the opportunity to play out of position.
Ryan Crotty is the obvious replacement after not putting a foot wrong against the Wallabies when replacing Ma’a Nonu earlier this season. Unfortunately Crotty left the field with an injury against Australia and will be touch and go in his attempts to return to the All Blacks squad in The Rugby Championship.
Malakai Fekitoa is a good candidate with the All Blacks already having an iron grip on The Rugby Championship title. While he is more of an outside centre or Number 13, he is young and would enjoy some more opportunities in the All Blacks jersey. He played a half game against the Wallabies in the second five eighth position and was good.
Dan Carter is about to make a return to rugby in late September, could he potentially play in the position he started with the All Blacks in? He has mainly played at first five eighth, but was impressive for the Crusaders at second five eighth. Is there any point rushing Carter back into the All Blacks when The Rugby Championship is almost over? He would add the element of a kicking game from the Number 12 jersey.
Ben Smith moved from the wing to replace Nonu at second five eighth. He is Mr Versatile and is such a good player that he is probably the best fullback and right winger in New Zealand. Unfortunately he can only play in one position. This would allow Israel Dagg to start at fullback and Cory Jane on the right wing.
Francis Saili got a few opportunities in the All Blacks squad in 2013, but he was a mixed bag. He has now dropped down the pecking order behind Crotty and Fekitoa, but he is a genuine midfield back in either the 12 or 13 position.
With SBW likely to start in the Number 12 jersey in November, who should finish The Rugby Championship 2014 in the Number 12 jersey?