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:
Someone pls tell me that Crotty is injured?
— Schmidtenhausenerrr (@crouchbindset_) October 17, 2019
No Crotty, Ioane, B Smith. Ridiculous depth. https://t.co/wEn15jKT55
— Matthew (@MatthewRiding) October 17, 2019
Good team selection, was surprised to no SBW or Crotty. But I trust Goodhue will show up, i think this is the same centre pairing that played them the last time around. Everyone else basically picked themselves with their performances. Hope we kill it 1st half ??? go boys! ?
— Webb Ellis (@Doc_Torio) October 17, 2019
I love and respect Hansen but dam no Crotty and Smith in a world cup Quarter Final? Suicide but ay he's a world cup winner. He knows best as you said
— Nqobile Madela (@nqobzasheen) October 17, 2019
The All Black side is interesting imo… Would've picked Crotty in place of Goodhue and Ben Smith ahead of Jordie Barret on the bench but Hansen knows best or is just unraveling. Either or not the best imo.
Retalick will be huge.
— Tom, Dick & Harry (@TNJ12) October 17, 2019
Was hoping Crotty would’ve been in there somewhere but….
— Aggie Metuariki (@AgzAggie) October 17, 2019
Interesting that Taylor was favoured over Coles. Odd to see Crotty, Smith and Ioane all not make the 23. https://t.co/b6Ki1D6ldE
— Thomas Moroney (@tmoroney4697) October 17, 2019
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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