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Positives to take from the All Blacks' loss

There are few things more dangerous than a wounded All Black. (Photo: Tim Anger)
Roar Guru
10th August, 2015
28

The All Blacks’ loss on Saturday night was the perfect preparation for the World Cup.

The loss gives the coaching staff an opportunity to delve into issues of which they weren’t aware, and select a squad that can get the job done.

While the Australians thoroughly deserved their victory, the performance from the men in black was one to forget.

The panic button isn’t needed just yet, but some players’ chances of playing at the World Cup may have been affected by the loss. With only 31 spots available on the plane to the World Cup, the All Blacks coaching staff face some tough calls.

I have decided to select a squad of 31 players for the World Cup.

Props
Ben Franks
Owen Franks
Wyatt Crockett
Tony Woodcock
Nepo Laulala

Hookers
Dane Coles
Keven Mealamu
Cody Taylor

Locks
Brodie Retallick
Sam Whitelock
Jeremy Thrush
Luke Romano

Backrow
Jerome Kaino
Kieran Read
Richie McCaw (C)
Sam Cane
Liam Messam

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Victor Vito could easily slot in for Messam, who hasn’t had a good performance in the black jersey since Kaino has been back in black.

Halback
Aaron Smith
TJ Perenara

Smith is still excellent at his role, but his stupid mistakes are costing the All Blacks. Perenara hasn’t closed the gap on him, which is a shame because Smith needs a wake-up call.

Flyhalf
Dan Carter
Beauden Barrett
Colin Slade
Lima Sopoaga

Aaron Cruden is still our best #10, and would have the starting spot over Carter, with Barrett landing the bench role. Sadly, Carter is past his best.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow unlucky to miss out. I see the coaching staff selection Sopoaga, after fly half issues with DC, with Slade to cover halfback and fly half.

Midfield
Conrad Smith
Ma’a Nonu
Sonny Bill Williams
Malakai Fekitoa

Williams wouldn’t make the squad if he wasn’t a marketing ploy – not enough heart, and he lacks rugby IQ. Ryan Crotty is very unlucky to miss out.

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The absence of Ma’a Nonu was evident on Saturday night.

Outside backs
Ben Smith
Israel Dagg
Julian Savea
Charles Piutau

Nehe Milner Skudder is very unlucky to miss out, and would be a shoo-in for any other country in the world. Israel Dagg holds his position in the team only because of experience.

This is the squad to take the men in black to back-to-back World Cups. The coaching staff have a huge task, but it will be made easier with common sense and trust in their players.

Let’s go get Bill!