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All Blacks' exclusions spark fan debate about New Zealand's strength in depth

Steve Hansen has named his All Blacks squad for the first two games of the Rugby Championship, with six uncapped players being selected. 

Chiefs duo Atu Moli and Luke Jacobson, Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua, Highlanders fly-half Josh Ioane and Crusaders outside backs Braydon Ennor and Sevu Reece are the six uncapped players, with Reece opting to play for the All Blacks over Fiji. 

Inevitably with a squad like this, there will be some names that are missing, and many fans have taken to social media to question some exclusions. 

However, what is most alarming is the sheer volume of high-class stars that fans feel should be in the squad but have missed out. This is not necessarily because there is someone that does not belong in the squad. It’s simply that there are many players that are worthy of being internationals that are missing out. 

For a long time, Blues fans have campaigned for loose forward Akira Ioane to play for the All Blacks, and while he has been in and out of training squads, he is yet to be capped. 

On the other end of the spectrum is his team-mate and double World Cup winner Ma’a Nonu, who has thrown himself back into contention this season. The fact that these two have not been included has surprised some fans. 

With the addition of Ennor and Reece, as well as the Crusaders’ one-cap George Bridge, a number of outside backs have missed out. The Highlanders’ Waisake Naholo is one big-name omission that has shocked some, as well as five-cap David Havili, who has been imperious for the Crusaders all season. 

Likewise, the Hurricanes’ powerful winger Ben Lam and his teammate Wes Goosen are more names that many fans thought were in with a shout. This is what the fans have said: 

While some fans may be dismissing the chances of the excluded players of making the World Cup, this is only the squad for the matches against Argentina and South Africa in the Rugby Championship. 

The squad that will travel to Japan later this year is likely to see returning stars Ryan Crotty, Scott Barrett and Liam Squire, who continues his comeback after a long term injury, to name a few.

However, the most noticeable thing is the overwhelming strength in depth that the All Blacks have based on this litany of stars that have been overlooked. 

A competitive international squad could easily be formed of the players that are not selected, which is an indication of how dominant the All Blacks are in world rugby. Hansen has clearly had a tough job on his hands choosing this squad, and it will only get harder for him. 

WATCH: Part one of the two-part RugbyPass documentary on the many adventures that fans can expect to experience in Japan at this year’s World Cup

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All Blacks' exclusions spark fan debate about New Zealand's strength in depth