The All Blacks are blessed with a wealth of talent at present, and that conveyor belt of talent never seems to stop.
Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith all left rugby after the World Cup and in their places have come some seriously good players.
The Lions squad is due to be named in just over a week and with that in mind, we take a look at whom they could line up against for the first test in Auckland.
Scrum-half seems a shoot out between TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Aaron Smith. Surely Perenara has the best chance. His sniping breaks and lightning distribution are the perfect anchor from which the quicker backs can attack from.
At fly-half there is only one man, the incredible Beauden Barrett. He has the potential to be the best fly-half ever. Yes, Carlos Spencer was amazing and Carter was special but Barrett is unbelievably talented.
Pace, handling, game management. The boy has it all and add to that a fearlessness to try things other players wouldn’t dare.
The midfield is where it becomes a little more complex of course there is Anton Lienert-Brown who is fast making a name for himself.
Malakai Fekitoa and Ryan Crotty are household names in New Zealand. There is also the truly terrifying prospect of a second Barrett in Hurricanes centre, Jordie.
And of course, that’s not forgetting the all-round superstar Sonny Bill Williams. The balance one could get with Sonny Bill Williams and Jordie Barrett is mouthwatering; the raw power and offloading game of Williams coupled with the subtle skills and out and out pace of Barrett would get the heart racing.
With the midfield sorted, out wide could get interesting. There are so many incredible wingers in New Zealand right now but none stand out more than Julian Savea, his strike rate is ridiculous and his ability to power over people just as easily as beat them on the outside is invaluable.
Rieko Ioane has been impressive recently and Waiskake Naholo is tearing it up in Super Rugby. There is also the old head of Israel Dagg one of the most exciting players on the planet.
Whilst they are all very good players they cannot match the devastating pace of Nehe Milner-Skudder, the man is back from injury and as fleet-footed as ever.
Once NMS is in space there is no catching him, anyone the Lions select will not catch him in open space and with Williams and Barrett making space inside him he should be wreaking havoc before too long.
At fullback, again Dagg is an option but so too is the talented Ben Smith, a safer defensive option than Dagg.
This writer’s pick is Damian McKenzie, the two-cap All Black is dangerous as Dagg with his feet and also has a sound kicking game to match Ben Smith’s.
This backline could cause some serious damage and Warren Gatland could well be looking very worried if these players are selected come the first test in June.
Potential New Zealand backline:
9 TJ Perenara
10 Beauden Barrett
11 Julian Savea
12 Sonny Bill Williams
13 Jordie Barrett
14 Nehe Milner-Skudder
15 Damian McKenzie
21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow
22 Anton Lienert-Brown
23 Ben Smith