'Some will be left out': Former All Black predicts major omissions from RWC squad
In about 10 months the All Black will embark on their World Cup journey in France, as they embody the hopes and dreams of a rugby mad nation.
The All Blacks are chasing history – the chance to become the first nation to win a fourth Rugby World Cup crown – but international rugby has never been this competitive.
Next year’s World Cup might be the first time ever that the men in black aren’t the favourites, some supporters might not even have them in their top three.
While the All Blacks managed to finish their year on a seven Test unbeaten run, the disastrous results from earlier this year against the likes of Ireland and Argentina can’t be forgotten.
New Zealand certainly improved as the year went on, but they’ll need to get even better if they want to hoist the Webb Ellis Cup in France.
To do that, All Blacks selectors will have to make some tough calls as they look to select the best squad that they can.
Former All Black Stephen Donald, who famously kicked the winning penalty in the 2011 final against France, has attempted to pick his way-too-early World Cup squad – which just goes to show how tough these decisions will be.
Speaking on SENZ, Donald selected 33 players across all the positions on the field, but the glaring omission of three world class backrowers is sure to be a talking point before the World Cup.
“Your two Sevens are going, (Sam) Cane and (Dalton) Papali’i. You lock in (Ardie) Savea. There’s three,” Donald said on The Run Home.
“Well, I’m locking in (Ethan) Blackadder. That’s four.
“I’m taking Luke (Jacobson). If Luke wants to come to France, he can come with me.
“It’s (Shannon) Frizell I’d say.”
Another option for the All Blacks, which could see another backrower stay at home, is to select Scott Barrett as one of the team’s loose forwards.
Crusaders captain Barrett has showcased his versatility between lock and blindside flanker on multiple occasion in the black jersey, dating back to the semi-final loss against England three years ago.
“To get the balance of your squad he (Barrett) may be classified as a lock,” he said.
“A lot of that will depend on who is playing well in the loose forward department.
“The interesting thing for me is (Josh) Lord is this young gun that they sort of had a look at a couple of years ago. The interesting thing for me at the Chiefs, even before he got injured, didn’t seem to be a favourite there as far as how much time he was actually getting.
“This far out I’m going to say Lord’s going to miss but with the provision that if the number sixes don’t actually play the house down in Super Rugby, then they will pick Lord and they will let Barrett have one of the loose forward spots.
“Unfortunately at this point in time, big Patty will be a casualty.
“The bubble wrap will be very extensively wrapped around Whitelock and Retallick, that is for sure.”
As reported earlier today, Donald has also tipped two bolters to make the World Cup squad – including an uncapped international halfback.
“I’m noting but consistently inconsistent so that’ll change no doubt on a weekly basis that team.
“My Lord you think about the quality of players that could be left behind, but they will be left out, some will be left out, some of those names won’t make it.”
Stephen Donald’s All Blacks squad
Lock: Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Tupou Va’ai, Scott Barrett
Halfback: Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Cam Roigard
Flyhalf: Richie Mo’unga, Beauden Barrett
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