The Rugby World Cup 2015 is a year away, but I am worried about some members of the All Blacks squad who will be in their mid-30s when the Rugby World Cup 2015 is on. The All Blacks have an impressive record between Rugby World Cups but plenty of their stars are getting old.
All Blacks players like Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Cory Jane are in the over 30s category, will their old legs be fast enough to win the Rugby World Cup 2015?
It all depends how healthy the experienced All Blacks are and if some of them are passed their best. It all depends on if the All Blacks selectors go for experience or youth. They usually play it conservatively and so expect the tried and true experienced All Blacks to dominate this squad. In saying this, don’t expect to see Piri Weepu and Andy Ellis who featured at the Rugby World Cup 2011.
There will also be players returning from overseas for consideration like Richard Kahui and Hosea Gear, but there are so many options in the outside backs.
It is so difficult to condense the squad into only 30 players.
Who do you think should make the All Blacks 30 man Rugby World Cup 2015 squad?
Fullback – Who do we play at fullback given how awesome Ben Smith is there, but the All Blacks also have Israel Dagg and Charles Piutau who are fullbacks, while Smith can play on the wing.
Right wing is a position of concern with Ben Smith at fullback, Cory Jane is the next best option, but is he past it? I think that Smith is better at fullback, so they should put Charles Piutau on the wing. Other options include Frank Halai, Tim Nanai-Williams or Tom Marshall or how about Richard Kahui who played their at the Rugby World Cup 2011?
The Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu midfield pair is under pressure. Sonny Bill Williams and Richard Kahui will return to add some pressure. The young brigade of Malakai Fekitoa, Francis Saili and Ryan Crotty are other options.
Julian Savea gets the left wing spot hands down.
The first fives practically pick themselves, barring injury. The question remains, is Dan Carter stil the top dog? We have Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade in reserve, while Lima Sopoaga and Ihaia West mustn’t be far behind.
The halfbacks almost pick themselves with Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara and Tawera Kerr Barlow while some other options include Bryn Hall, Brad Weber and Augustine Pulu in contention.
The loose forwards will be a juggling act with plenty of Number Eights and Sixes who can cover openside flanker if needed.
Number Eights – Kieran Read wins hands down, while Jerome Kaino, Victor Vito and Liam Messam can also play there.
Openside flanker – Richie McCaw will get this gig, while Matt Todd and Sam Cane are the next options. There are some other potential bolters in Luke Braid, Ardie Savea and Shane Christie.
Blindside flanker – Kaino, Messam and Steven Luatua are the best options, while Brad Shields is close. Utility forwards are the ones to watch.
Locks – Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick are the first choices, while Luke Romano, Patrick Tuipulotu, Dominic Bird and Jeremy Thrush. Luatua could cover lock and loose forward, while Joe Wheeler from the Highlanders can too.
Props – The props are obvious selections with Owen Franks, Wyatt Crockett, Tony Woodcock, Charlie Faumuina are obvious picks, while it will be interesting to see if some of the up and comers like Kane Hames, Jeff Toomaga-Allen or Joe Moody are up to it. Ben Franks is still a good prop, while will we see overseas based players returning like John Afoa? Ben Afeaki and Ben Tameifuna are both struggling with head injuries.
Hooker – Dane Coles and Keven Mealamu are streets ahead of the rest. The All Blacks will need one other hooker. There are plenty of solid but unspectacular options like Nathan Harris, Liam Coltman, James Parsons and Quentin MacDonald. I like the look of MacDonald.
It is difficult to narrow it down to a squad of only 30 players. There are some great players who will miss out. They will be useful to add some depth and will join the squad if there is an injury, players like Cory Jane, Hosea Gear, Steven Luatua and Colin Slade will probably miss out at this stage, but would get the call up depending on injuries.
My All Blacks Rugby World Cup Squad 2015
Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Charles Piutau, Julian Savea, Richard Kahui, Malakai Fekitoa, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams, Dan Carter, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara.
Kieran Read, Jerome Kaino, Liam Messam, Richie McCaw, Sam Cane, Victor Vito, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Ben Franks, Wyatt Crockett, Tony Woodcock, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Dane Coles, Quentin MacDonald.
Who would you pick in your All Blacks Rugby World Cup Squad 2015 with only 30 players allowed?
There are some excellent players that missed selection. It depends on the breakdown of positions that the selectors want to go for. Five props, 3 halfbacks, hookers and first five eighths might be enough. Do they go for a 15-15 split or a 16 forwards 14 backs squad?
For half of the All Blacks matches, it won’t matter who plays in the black jersey, they will win anyway, but at the business end of the competition, the All Blacks will need their best combinations. It is always interesting to see how much rest and rotation takes place as selectors balance keeping the players fresh with maintaining combinations.