We take a look at the seven key talking points from today’s announcement by Steve Hansen of the 31 All Blacks he will be taking to the World Cup…
1. The back three looks a little risky
It’s fantastic to see Naholo included in the final squad after his leg break, however as he is likely to miss the first three games of the World Cup, it leaves only three genuine back three players. Obviously Colin Slade and Sonny Bill Williams can cover but it’s hardly an ideal scenario.
2. The second row looks a little light
With just three specialist locks selected in the squad, the All Blacks look a little light in the engine room. There are a couple of back rowers who can step in if needs be, but it’s not the ideal scenario should a couple of players pick up minor knocks.
3. What did Sopoaga and Piutau do wrong?
Two of the All Blacks stand out players in the Rugby Championship have both missed out on selection for the World Cup. Given the lack of back three options, it’s strange for the in form Piutau to miss out, whilst Sopoaga has impressed for club and country this season.
4. There is an ideal blend of youth and experience
The usual suspects like Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Keven Mealamu are still in there, whilst there has been an injection of young talent in the likes of Nehe Milner-Skudder and Waisake Naholo to provide a good mix of options at the World Cup.
5. It looks like this could be the end of several careers
It looks like the World Cup squad announcement could spell the end of the international career of Cory Jane, whilst Israel Dagg may struggle to break back into All Blacks contention given he now seems to have been leap-frogged by Milner-Skudder.
The All Blacks squad in full;
Backs: Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Julian Savea, Conrad Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Ma’a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams, Dan Carter, Beauden Barrett, Colin Slade, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow
Forwards: Kieran Read, Victor Vito, Richie McCaw (captain), Sam Cane, Jerome Kaino, Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Tony Woodcock, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Dane Coles, Keven Mealamu, Codie Taylor