We take a look at the next group of stars who will be hoping to lead the All Blacks to a third successive World Cup title in 2019…
Arguably the best full back in the world, and at 29 could well still be in contention come the World Cup in 2019 where he may have lost a yard of pace, but he has already shown his skill lies in his ability to read the game which will only improve with age.
Milner-Skudder was the stand out star of 2015, and has ensured that he is now considered a key member of the All Blacks squad moving forwards. The fact he can also cover full back will be seen as a huge bonus, especially if Smith does retire before 2019.
Over the last couple of years, Fekitoa has been slowly introduced to international rugby with the All Blacks, and will now look to build on that experience as a likely first choice starter where he will look to continue developing his all round game play.
Not a position he is too used to, but Ranger could be set for some game time at 12 this year, and has all the attributes necessary to succeed. He’s a powerful runner who can offload, kick and take contact which could really help open the field up for the back three.
Known as the bus, Savea will likely be busting through tackles for the All Blacks over the coming years. It’s scary to think just how much better the ever impressive winger could get given that he is just 25 years old at the moment.
There are arguments for both Cruden and Barrett here, but Sopoaga was the stand out fly half in Super Rugby last season, and now has his chance to stake a claim for more time in the All Blacks shirt as he attempts to retain the Highlanders crown.
Without doubt, one of the very best players in the world right now, Smith is vital to the All Blacks high tempo expansive game. With his experience he will now become a key leadership figure as he guides a new starting fly half through the next year or two.
Read appears to be the captain in waiting now that Richie McCaw has retired, and will be hoping to rediscover the form that saw him crowned world player of the year. He is now 30, but could go on to see the 2019 World Cup being his final swansong.
Despite emerging as one of the best opensides in the world, Cane has been left in the shadows somewhat thanks to Richie McCaw’s longevity. Not the All Blacks great has retired, we will get the chance to see what Cane go do with a run in the All Blacks side.
Dixon has remained largely under the radar over the last few years and has made it to 26 without a All Blacks cap. Last season however he really made a breakthrough with the Highlanders and could find himself given a run in the team.
Whitelock has formed one of the most dominant second row partnerships in the world with Retallick and given he is just 27, he will be hitting his prime for the 2019 World Cup. A lineout leader who is handy around the pitch, he is key in the pack.
There aren’t many second rows who outshine Whitelock, but Retallick is one of them. A key figure in the All Blacks pack who has formed an impressive partnership with Whitelock, and given he is just 24, he could be involved in the next two World Cups.
It’s scary to think Franks is just 28 now and so should still be in decent shape come the next World Cup in 2019. With 78 caps already to his name Franks will be a highly experienced member of the team.
As the clear first choice All Blacks hooker, Coles will remain the incumbent, and should still be at the top of his game come 2019 given he will be just 32. Another important leader in the pack who helps ensure plenty of continuity throughout the team.
The loosehead spot is very much up for grabs right now in the All Blacks side, and much will come down to who shines over the next six months in Super Rugby, but at this stage Moody is probably the standout candidate.