The All Blacks have an embarrassment of riches at fly half.
When the All Blacks step on the field against Wales this weekend, they will do so without some the players who delivered back to back World Cup success.
In all, New Zealand lost over 800 caps worth of experience after the World Cup, when Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Ben Franks and Colin Slade either announced their retirements or moved to European clubs.
As a result, the succession plan put in place by Steve Hansen and the All Black management team will be tested over the coming months, starting with this weekend’s clash with Wales.
While some international teams would enter a period of sharp decline after losing such players, Hansen has the luxury of choosing between some of the game’s best up and coming stars.
This is particularly the case at fly half, where Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett and Lima Sopoaga are battling it out for the number 10 jersey.
While numerous commentators have debated the merits of starting any one of the trio of players against Wales, Dan Carter believes Cruden should be given the nod.
Speaking with the New Zealand Herald, the Racing 92 playmaker commended the way in which Cruden has played since returning from a a ruptured cruciate ligament injury, and pointed out that Barrett’s versatility would add the All Black’s impact off the bench.
I was really interested to see how Cruds would bounce back from such a serious injury and credit to him and the way he has worked and he has bounced back seamlessly.
He was my pick from the start and he was in the leadership group and has been there for a couple of years now, and I think it’s his time to lead this team.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena