With plenty of talk surrounding the British and Irish Lions squad for 2017, Simon van Ryn will have a crack at naming the possible All Blacks 23 to defend their shores.
Reggie Goodes: Two years is a long time in Rugby and this writer believes Reggie Goodes will make a huge statement in N.Z. rugby over the next few years to force his way into the All Blacks.
A strong campaign this year for the Hurricanes got him close to World Cup selection. Weighing in around the 114 kg mark, Goodes will want to add a few kegs to his frame before 2017 if he wants to reach his full potential.
Ardie Savea vs Sam Cane: This writer’s got both of these talented openside’s starting in this XV. Sam Cane is better suited on the blindside as he is naturally heavier, while Ardie Savea is quicker and more athletic, which will allow him to reach the contact areas at break neck speeds.
Both players are suited to the confrontational style of football that British and Irish Lions bring over, so it will be interesting to see if their combination works. Will it be successful, like Hooper and Pocock for Australia?
Brad Shields and Akira Ioane: Shields and Ioane are this writer’s loose forward picks for the bench, purely because Akira will be too hard to ignore, while Shields will bring his versatility of being able to play both blindside flanker, number 8 and lock.
Both players are physically imposing, weighing in around 114 kg, which gives Steve Hansen some real firepower to finish off what will likely be tight affairs.
Rene Ranger: Almost the forgotten man of New Zealand rugby. Ranger, a former test player for the All Blacks, will want to reclaim his spot for the historical test series in 2017.
Ranger brings a power game that is rarely matched in world rugby with his ability to bump off players with ease. This writer’s picking him to be a star player in this series and hopefully his current neck injury is not a major one.
A predicted All Blacks 23 for the 2017 British and Irish Lions tests.
1. Reggie Goodes (Hurricanes)
2. Dane Coles (Hurricanes)
3. Nepo Laulaula (Chiefs)
4. Brodie Rettalick (Chiefs)
5. Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)
6. Sam Cane (Chiefs)
7. Ardie Savea (Hurricanes)
8. Kieran Read (Crusaders)
9. Aaron Smith (Highlanders)
10. Aaron Cruden (Chiefs)
11. Julian Savea (Hurricanes)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs)
13. Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders)
14. Nehe Milner Skudder (Hurricanes)
15. Ben Smith (Highlanders)
16. Codie Taylor (Crusaders)
17. Charlie Faumauina (Blues)
18. Joe Moody (Crusaders)
19. Brad Shields (Hurricanes)
20. Akira Ioane (Blues)
21. TJ Perenara (Hurricanes)
22. Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes)
23. Rene Ranger (Blues)
I’ll put it to you Pundit Arena fans. Who would you select in your All Blacks 23 to defend the shores of Aotearoa? Let us know via Facebook.
Simon van Ryn, Pundit Arena