On Sunday evening the All Blacks will name their much anticipated squad to defend the Rugby World Cup title. Simon van Ryn discusses the outside backs selection headache facing Steve Hansen.
Most of the squad picks itself but there are still a few uncertainties surrounding selection, most notably the outside backs. It’s fair to say that Julian Savea and Ben Smith are locked in, leaving just five players in contention and only two slots available, as we can assume either Beauden Barrett or Colin Slade will be picked and will be expected to cover those outside slots if needed.
This writer speaks about this with a fair bit of anxiety knowing that playing players out of position has been somewhat of a demon for the All Blacks in the past.
Reverting back to the specialists in Nehe Milner-Skudder, Cory Jane, Israel Dagg, Charles Piatau and the gass man Waisaiki Nahalo, it suddenly becomes very difficult to decide. On one side of the ledger we have the experience of Jane and Dagg who were apart of the infamous bomb squad in 2011 and who I am sure have the trust of the All Blacks coaches. But have they run their race? Is the new blood of Piatau, Milner-Skudder and Nahalo too hard to ignore?
Putting on the selector’s hat, one would have to go with Piatau and Nehe Milner-Skudder purely for the reason that they provide fresh legs and a whole lot of X factor, while also being able to complement both Ben Smith and Julian Savea a lot better, through their different playing dynamics.
Waisaiki Nahalo, for this writer, is too big of a risk with his leg injury this close to the World Cup and one feels Corey Jane and Israel Dagg have not quite taken their chances in 2015 to the same degree as they have in previous seasons.
Anyway thank goodness I am not a selector because making that dreaded phone call to those who miss out must be tough. Good luck Steve Hansen.
Here are the contenders, but who makes your squad?
1. Charles Piutau
2. Israel Dagg
3. Cory Jane
4. Nehe Milner Skudder
5. Waisaki Nahalo