Based on the team that defeated the Springboks in the opening match of their Rugby World Cup campaign, there are not too many surprises to the All Blacks squad that face Ireland this Saturday in Tokyo in the quarter-final.
There are some minor tweaks to the starting XV, however, which sees Codie Taylor start and Brodie Retallick play after recovering from his shoulder injury. Another decision by Steve Hansen was to drop Ryan Crotty completely for a midfield reshuffle.
Anton Lienert-Brown, who started at outside centre against the Springboks, moves to 12, while Jack Goodhue moves to 13. Sonny Bill Williams and Jordie Barrett are both on the bench, as no flyhalf is needed with Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga in the squad.
Many fans on Twitter feel that Crotty is very unlucky to miss out on a place in the squad, as even if he were to be dropped from the starting XV, there may have still been a place on the bench for him.
However, some have also noted that it is an impressive midfield nonetheless, particularly with the inform Lienert-Brown. While it may have been a toss-up between Goodhue and Crotty, Hansen may want to try Lienert-Brown at 12, which probably leaves Goodhue as the better option at 13.
Similarly, Williams perhaps poses more of a threat from the bench over Crotty, so the 45-cap international has just been shaded by his teammates.
This is what has been said:
This line up is a well set up for the contact style of Irish Rugby. Interesting not having Crotty in, but amazing team and a few great players on the bench for impact. Good luck @AllBlacks #BACKBLACK #NZLvIRE #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/ZMEMkETGL3
— idham (@edy_idhxm) October 17, 2019
This is a good position for Hansen to be in, as all four of his centres are worthy of starting in the biggest matches, and will all be vying for a place should they get through Ireland. Even Williams himself can be deemed unlucky not to start, particularly after his showing against Canada earlier in the tournament.
Having beaten the All Blacks twice in the last three matches that they have played, Hansen is not taking Ireland lightly, and this is starting to look like his first-choice squad.
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