Earlier today Steve Hansen released his squad for the first Test this Saturday…
Hansen has selected his team with a blend of youth and experience and his side still looks frightening. However, fans were shocked at some of the surprise selections made by the All Blacks coach.
Shock 1- Rieko Ioane over Julian Savea
Every rugby fan on the planet is aware of the pace and power that Julian Save has in abundance. What sets him apart from the rest is his ability to score try after try in the black of New Zealand. Scoring 47 tries in 53 games is quite remarkable and an achievement that may never be matched in tier 1 rugby. Savea’s gone quiet for the Hurricanes this year which has generated some questions about his form. Regardless, he’s still the best finisher on the planet which begs the question why has he been left out of the team?
I’m under no illusions about the talent Rieko Ioane possesses. The power, stepping and quick hands of Ioane is no match for any defender, just ask Jack Nowell! However, does he warrant a place in a game of this magnitude? He has just two caps for the All Blacks and both of those came off the bench. The Maori All Blacks weren’t on top of the Lions, Ioane didn’t step up and was quiet. If he reproduces that performance then Steve Hansen will regret leaving out one of the best wingers in the world for an inexperienced and under qualified youngster.
Shock 2- Ryan Crotty over Anton Lienert-Brown
Anton Lienert-Brown was one of the biggest revelations in 2016. Fans were amazed by his offloading and pace was incredible and the All Blacks had uncovered a gem of a player. Furthermore, the partnership of Lienert-Brown and Williams looked formidable against Samoa and would have caused trouble for the Lions defence. Instead, Hansen has opted for the more conservative choice of Ryan Crotty. The Crusaders centre is a great inside centre and an
Instead, Hansen has opted for the more conservative choice of Ryan Crotty. The Crusaders centre is a great inside centre and an all-rounder but is less dangerous in attack. Also, he is going to be playing at outside centre which isn’t his favoured position causing problems for him in defence. Lastly, Crotty has been out for three weeks with a rib injury and won’t be fully fit for the first test, unlike Lienert-Brown.
Shock 3- No Jordie Barrett
The Barrett family will be over the moon to have two family members in the All Blacks squad. However, they will feel hard done by to not have the youngest Barrett in the squad. Jordie Barrett has been the stand out player in the back three in Super Rugby and his goal kicking could prove invaluable with the wayward kicking of his older brother. Barrett brings an all round skill set and a physical presence which the Lions would struggle to stop.