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.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) July 2, 2019
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.
— Tall and Lazy (@MakweSiphosethu) July 2, 2019
SBW in there purely on reputation. Wasn't all that flash in the games he played. I'd pick Ma'a Nonu rather…
— Clyde K. Hendricks (@Clyde_K_H) July 2, 2019
Interesting additions to the squad! Might be a controversial call but I would’ve rather seen Ma’a Nonu over Sonny Bill….. https://t.co/s8rPCqVGlk
— Keegan McCauley (@keeganpmccauley) July 2, 2019
— Junz (@ViweXO) July 2, 2019
Reece is thoroughly deserved! Slightly surprised no Naholo mind.
— Ian G (@IanG1878) July 2, 2019
— Shaun Dayman (@shaunnzht) July 2, 2019
— Mhmd.S (@syafiqanwar) July 2, 2019
David Havili?? Nxaa? https://t.co/5rvDIFvHnK
— QWADE COOPER (@SihleQwadeLinda) July 2, 2019
sacks to be Ben Lam https://t.co/4gU8HAsppK
— WIGSTA *** (@ThaWigsta) July 2, 2019
Three exclusions jump out here: Luke Romano, David Havili and Waisake Naholo miss out. Ryan Crotty out injured too. Yet, this is still a World-Cup winning team in a October '19. AB's strength in depth is outta this world. https://t.co/G3dx6lOx0J
— Nandile Maholwana (@Igwe_TheElder) July 2, 2019
SBW? And Nonu is not there? I am confused! Other than that…. SOLID team! Winning the World Cup for sure! https://t.co/bFI0bSH3QF
— Sheilah Birgen (@SheilahBirgen) July 2, 2019
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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