All Blacks make massive selection cut in Bledisloe Cup squad

By Daniel Gilhooly, Daniel Gilhooly is a Roar Guru

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    All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has run out of patience with prolific winger Julian Savea, dropping him from the squad for the Rugby Championship.

    The powerful back’s name is the most notable one missing from the 33-man group unveiled on Monday for the championship which begins with next week’s Test against Australia in Sydney.

    There are recalls for Hurricanes outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder and prop Nepo Laulala, who both last played for New Zealand in 2015 before being struck down with serious injuries.

    Hooker Dane Coles returns after missing the Lions series with concussion symptoms.

    Hansen has otherwise resisted the urge to make changes from the squad which contested the drawn series against the British and Irish Lions.

    Uncapped Chiefs prop Atu Moli, 22, is named as an “apprentice player”. The former New Zealand under-20 captain isn’t part of the official squad but will assemble and train with them.

    Not considered were centre Malakai Fekitoa, first five-eighth Aaron Cruden and prop Charlie Faumuina after signing offshore contracts.

    Halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow will also leave for France later in the year but has been retained as the likely third-choice No.9.

    Hansen singled out Julian Savea and flanker Matt Todd as unlucky to be cut.

    Savea, the scorer of 46 tries from 54 Tests, has struggled this year, facing the Lions in the third Test only.

    He also lacked zip with the Hurricanes and was named on the bench for their Super Rugby semi-final loss to the Lions.

    Fullback Ben Smith will play the first two Tests before taking a sabbatical for the remainder of the year.

    Versatile back Damian McKenzie is included, boasting an ability to cover fullback and first five-eighth, where Beauden Barrett and Lima Sopoaga are the only two candidates.

    Hansen indicated there would be “new strategies” to handle the travelling component of the championship, indicating some senior players will be rested from the Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires on September 30.

    “We’ve learnt since the introduction of Argentina that there is a massive travelling component to the championship, which comes at a cost at the end of the year,” he said.

    “So we’ll be looking to implement some new strategies to try and overcome that.”

    New Zealand squad
    Backs: Ben Smith, Jordie Barrett, Israel Dagg, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Rieko Ioane, Ryan Crotty, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Ngani Laumape, Beauden Barrett, Lima Sopoaga, Damian McKenzie, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow

    Forwards: Kieran Read (capt), Liam Squire, Jerome Kaino, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Vaea Fifita, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Wyatt Crockett, Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris.

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (98)

    • August 7th 2017 @ 1:45pm
      Council said | August 7th 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

      Interesting to see DMac listed as probable 1st 5 back up. I’d have Mounga and watch Mackenzie next year, hopefully with game time at 10 with Crude going overseas.

      • Roar Rookie

        August 7th 2017 @ 2:25pm
        Phantom said | August 7th 2017 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

        Mounga is simply not up the requisite standard.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 2:51pm
          Council said | August 7th 2017 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

          Neither is Damien though. And I’d rather have a 10 as back up who’s spent the season playing in the position.

          • August 7th 2017 @ 2:59pm
            cuw said | August 7th 2017 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

            i wonder if Hansen watched DMac v BILs at 10 , he was just rubbish – but then he had not played 10 for like , i dont know when he played 10 last in a meaningful match.

            simillarly DMac went to pieces in his debut at 15 against Argies .

            he is a very good player but seems to lack big match temperament – like Jantjies.

            • August 7th 2017 @ 5:03pm
              WQ said | August 7th 2017 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

              He may just end up being one of those players that never quite transfers Super Rugby form into the Test Match arena cuw?

              • August 7th 2017 @ 5:19pm
                cuw said | August 7th 2017 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

                i think he is too small for 15 – heart is onething but physics is another.

                then he has not played enuf at 10 to be good.

                he just may defy my logic and be the best 10 ever BUT

                look a the guys in the team now , neither Barret nor Sopoaga made their mark at 10 in a couple of seasons. they took about 3 seasons of miter 10 and super rugger to be good.

                hell i think barrett is still learning to play 10 , when under pressure specially…

                even Mounga – he looks good only now after 2 seasons.

                that is why i am not so sure Otere Black will do wonders for Blues next year. he nees to settle and he needs experience at 10.

                look at jantjies – after like 4 seasons , he still breaks down under pressure .

                great 10s are like the great football strikers of the world – u only have a handful who are really great.

              • August 8th 2017 @ 9:51am
                WQ said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

                Agree with all of that cuw

            • August 7th 2017 @ 6:59pm
              Old Bugger said | August 7th 2017 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

              cuw

              I wonder if you have any contribution to AB selections as much as Hansen does…..what a silly observation for you to wonder about a bloke who’s qualities as the coach, have realised so much success.

              Whatever displeases you about DMac thankfully, doesn’t impact upon what Hansen sees, in the same player.

              You stick to tapping your fingers and let the ABs coach stick to what he does best – choosing the next line of ABs to replace, the current and past lines who look toward, moving on.

            • August 8th 2017 @ 9:30am
              Rugby Tragic said | August 8th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

              cuw … a bit tough to judge Macca based merely on his game v BIL’s. I personally think he is a bit small today but if you cast your mind back and think about the likes of Super Sid Going an unconventional half back, Grant Batty, another little bloke who made solid contributions to the AB’s. I think it is more about heart and Mackenzie has plenty of that packed in his little frame.

              I think Mackenzie is an excitement machine who possibly takes on a tad too much himself but I also think he will mature and become an even more valuable NZ rugby asset.

              • August 8th 2017 @ 2:06pm
                cuw said | August 8th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

                as i said above , heart is one thing but physics is another metric.

                the guys u talk of played in an era where size was not numero uno. this is not the case now.

                also while saying DMAC was rubbish in the Lions game , i also said that he had not played at 10 for many matches .

                that is the whole issue for me. why choose someone who is not playing there , when there are easily better guys for 10 – like Mouanga ?

                i think Hansen can do that and several other things – simply becoz the team is winning AND there is no credible team to challenge the all blacks.

                my whole point was , had such choices been made by another coach , he would be lynched πŸ™‚

              • Roar Rookie

                August 8th 2017 @ 10:09pm
                Shane D said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:09pm | ! Report

                Sid Going was a pretty typically sized 9 for the day RT. About 5’10” & 80 odd KG’s.

            • August 8th 2017 @ 6:14pm
              double agent said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

              cuw to be fair to DMac the Maori forwards copped a hammering that night. No 10 looks good when that happens.

              • August 8th 2017 @ 6:19pm
                cuw said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

                that and the fact that he had last played at 10 in itm cup like 6 months back.

                thought it was silly and unfair on the player , given the maori side is also like a ba ba side , who have not played much together….

              • August 10th 2017 @ 8:45am
                Ben said | August 10th 2017 @ 8:45am | ! Report

                …like your comment CUW that Vaea Fifita would never be an AB??
                Because, you said, along with not being that good he was too small to…

        • August 8th 2017 @ 1:15pm
          Phil said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

          Can we have him in Wallabies,please?He looked pretty OK in SR final.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 1:21pm
            Fionn said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

            Mate, never fear, we have the “Iceman”.

            • August 8th 2017 @ 10:25pm
              woodart said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:25pm | ! Report

              scott dixon? dont think so.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 5:21pm
          MitchO said | August 8th 2017 @ 5:21pm | ! Report

          Maybe not for the ABs but Mounga looks better than Cooper and Foley to me.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 3:05pm
        Bamboo said | August 7th 2017 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

        McKenzie has played a lot of his Chiefs time at fullback due to Aaron Cruden, not due to his inability at No.10. His preferred position is No.10.

        Id cut Sopoaga for Mo’unga. Lima is this generations Luke McAlister, and is prone to brain farts.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 4:04pm
          stubs said | August 7th 2017 @ 4:04pm | ! Report

          I rate DMac and thought it was a very curious move to leave him out of the All Blacks last year. With some game time he could become a very dangerous weapon.
          Interesting to hear his preferred position is #10. Larkham started off in the #15 jersey and I see similarities in their running game.

          • August 7th 2017 @ 6:06pm
            bamboo said | August 7th 2017 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

            Hopefully McKenzie doesnt have coaching aspirations down the track then.

          • Roar Rookie

            August 7th 2017 @ 7:15pm
            Shane D said | August 7th 2017 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

            Played all his junior rugby as a 10 Stubs. Had been at 15 with the Chiefs to get on the field with Cruden having 1st call on the 10 jumper.

            • August 7th 2017 @ 8:28pm
              Council said | August 7th 2017 @ 8:28pm | ! Report

              Cheers for the responses, I didn’t know he has only recently moved to 15.

              Talented fecker isn’t he.

              Also he only comes into the squad after B Smith departs.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 5:22pm
          cuw said | August 7th 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

          DMAC plays 10 for WAIKATO in mitre 10 – but he has not really set the park alight ….

    • August 7th 2017 @ 2:36pm
      Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

      Don’t see it as such a shock, he’s got to be behind Milner-Skudder, Dagg, Ioane and Naholo for a wing spot.

      So, it could be a tough day at the office for the Wallabies…

      15. B. Smith
      14. I. Dagg
      13. A. Lienert-Brown
      12. R. Crotty
      11. N. Milner-Skudder
      10. B. Barrett
      9. A. Smith
      8. K. Read
      7. S. Cane
      6. J. Kaino
      5. B. Retallick
      5. S. Whitelock
      3. O. Franks
      2. D. Coles
      1. J. Moody

      16. W. Crocket
      17. C. Taylor
      18. N. Laulala
      19. S. Barrett
      20. A. Savea
      21. T. Perenara
      22. L. Sopoaga
      23. N. Laumape/R. Ioane

      • August 7th 2017 @ 2:51pm
        cuw said | August 7th 2017 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

        isnt that the easiest team u have written πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

        but i think Reiko will be on left wing with NMS covering wing and fullback from bench.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 4:27pm
          Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 4:27pm | ! Report

          Yeah, perhaps, mate, the main reason I said that was because NMS has a proven history of great international form, Reiko did well in his first Test and very averagely in the second. You could easily be right though.

          • August 7th 2017 @ 5:24pm
            cuw said | August 7th 2017 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

            but NMS is a right wing , just like Dagg.

            Naholo can play on both sides. probably why they have not brought Tamanivalu in.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 3:27pm
        TT said | August 7th 2017 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

        Agree with your midfield Fionn but I suspect SWB will partner Crotty in the centre’s…

        And they’ll probably start with Reiko on the left wing given NMS is predominantly a right ring/fullback.

        Anyway, it will be a formidable side whoever they choose.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 4:28pm
          Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

          I think you could be right on every point, mate. I guess this is more the side I would choose?

          Could be a plot twist and Dagg could be benched.

          Seems unlikely though πŸ˜›

          • August 7th 2017 @ 5:22pm
            The Grafter said | August 7th 2017 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

            Even with possible tweaking in the outside backs, it’s a pretty solid looking squad.

            I think your pretty close mate. Well done.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 3:40pm
        WQ said | August 7th 2017 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

        Gday Fionn, not sure that the All Blacks would go to the lengths they have to clear SBW for the match and then not pick him in the squad?
        Perhaps him and Crotty in the midfield?

        • August 7th 2017 @ 4:26pm
          Fionn said | August 7th 2017 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

          Very possibly, mate. I’m still not sure it wasn’t just the principle of getting him off, or as injury cover, or as bench cover?

          I guess this is my side rather than Hansen’s necessarily, but I think that Crotty is the best centre in the world at the moment and would think that moving him might be a bit risky, but Hansen is a better coach than me πŸ™‚

          • August 7th 2017 @ 4:59pm
            WQ said | August 7th 2017 @ 4:59pm | ! Report

            Certainly agree re: Crotty’s current form he has been sensational!
            I think Steve Hansen likes the SBW/Crotty midfield combination. Thats the way he went with his first Test Team against the Lions.
            You could be right about the All Blacks wanting to win the argument on principle alone, that would be important for future player management in similar conditions.

            • August 7th 2017 @ 6:06pm
              MitchO said | August 7th 2017 @ 6:06pm | ! Report

              I am with you guys on that. Crotty is doing a great job in attack and defence at 12. If he can cover 13 as well then great. Doesn’t Ione cover 13 as well? He probably needs more SR experience there though to keep the D organised.

              Surely SBW’s days are coming to an end. If you are going to move Crotty out of 12 then would it not be for Laumpe who has made serious metres in the middle against the best Ds?

              I know test matches are different but McKenzie has been the best full back in super rugby and that’s a pretty high standard. So if Smith doesn’t play then surely DMacK is the next in line. A bit like playing Cruden and BBBB in the same 23 man squad.

              Dagg has to keep one wing.

              • August 8th 2017 @ 1:19pm
                Phil said | August 8th 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                Jordie Barrett might have something to say about that.He looked pretty handy on debut.

              • August 8th 2017 @ 5:28pm
                MitchO said | August 8th 2017 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

                Phil. someone posted up the Super Rugby stats the other day and DMac was around the top of everything relevant to his position. So statistically he had a better season than Jordie.

                Amazingly in super rugby DMac’s size didn’t seem to set him back.

                No doubt Jordie will get his run with the ABs though. He’s a big unit and kicks better than his bro.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 7th 2017 @ 7:17pm
          Shane D said | August 7th 2017 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

          SBW 12, Crotty 13 with ALB on the bench. That’s how they went with every available in the 1st BIL test.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 3:41pm
            Rugby Tragic said | August 8th 2017 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

            And Shane, that would be my bet on who he will start with at least for RC match No1 next week. Hansen has a lot of time for SBW and is not a fickle man.

            • Roar Rookie

              August 8th 2017 @ 10:13pm
              Shane D said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:13pm | ! Report

              Definitely sees him as a ‘point of difference’ player RT.
              His ability to breach the line & offload is something Hansen wants there.
              The threat off it means that defences tend to hold on him for a moment or 2 which creates space out wider.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 5:34pm
        Bfc said | August 7th 2017 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

        Also saw a list of the BOKs RC squad…a few youngsters but a very solid squad, if Coetze can produce a decent coaching performance.
        Compare this (your…) ABs possible line-up and a BOKs possible line-up to our Wallas…alas the comparison does not fill me with confidence. Wondering if the Wallas can get more than one “W”…?

      • August 8th 2017 @ 7:02am
        riddler said | August 8th 2017 @ 7:02am | ! Report

        fionn, since i first started to play and follow the game in earnest.. ie dreaming of wallaby gold in 84… how the heck can anyone ever, ever, ever say yellow???

        the ab’s team has always been difficult, yet easy to pick, if you get my drift..

        the problem has always been in who to leave out..

        that is why i always cherish when we play the all blacks.. you never know when you might sneak one over them..

        p.s if i don’t answer to your possible answer, it is b/c i am passed out on the sofa after a long, but lovely monday sess..

    • August 7th 2017 @ 2:55pm
      cuw said | August 7th 2017 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

      how wonderful to be NZ coach and be not questioned by fans , particularly state-oriented fans like in OZ.

      Matt Todd , Seta Tamanivalu , Vince Aso , Brad Shields , Dom Bird … few players who have shown really good form in super rugger , but …..

      • August 7th 2017 @ 4:03pm
        R2D2 said | August 7th 2017 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

        It is about the process they go through and it seems very calculated and the players themselves are fully informed along the way. The NZ rugby public can see the process happening and therefore are also well informed and up to date…it also helps when you have a winning record to back you up.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 5:40pm
          cuw said | August 7th 2017 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

          well , isnt it interesting that certain players going abroad are left out but one TKB is in ?

          i mean isnt this the kind of thing aussy fans were grumbling about ?? πŸ™‚

          as someone has said “victory has a 1000 fathers but defeat is a bastard!”

          • August 8th 2017 @ 7:06am
            riddler said | August 8th 2017 @ 7:06am | ! Report

            so true cuw!!

      • August 7th 2017 @ 5:24pm
        The Grafter said | August 7th 2017 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

        I’m a big Shields fan mate. Not sure what more he has to do to make the squad.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 7:08pm
        Old Bugger said | August 7th 2017 @ 7:08pm | ! Report

        cuw

        Now I am convinced – do you have something against Hansen that you may care to share….?? For goodness sakes mate – why doesn’t the NZRU question Hansen’s position as coach since they are, his employer??

        Oh that’s right – he’s probably the most successful AB coach ever to take the reins but, in your eyes – you obviously believe he has some magic invisible cloak keeping him hidden away, from prying eyes and fans questions.

        Everyone’s perhaps, except your own?? Here’s a secret – when his results show he has lost more than he’s won well then, join the queue of everyone who will be screaming, for his head because in all honesty then, I’d probably be amongst that lot too but, until then mate, sit back and enjoy the successes.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 8:20pm
        Boomeranga said | August 7th 2017 @ 8:20pm | ! Report

        The lack of feeling between NZ provinces is my second biggest reason for not wanting a Trans Tasman comp. For it to really work there would need to be tribalism. Vanilla won’t sell.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 7th 2017 @ 10:17pm
          Shane D said | August 7th 2017 @ 10:17pm | ! Report

          There is plenty of feeling between
          the NZ provinces & super franchises Booma. If you are looking for the Qld v NSW bickering about who should be in the Wallabies kind of thing then that’s not really prevalent in NZ rugby anymore. Once the players are in the AB’s they are AB’s not Crusaders or Chiefs etc.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 5:49am
          Bakkies said | August 8th 2017 @ 5:49am | ! Report

          Ever been around a group of Cantabs and Jafas?

          • Roar Rookie

            August 8th 2017 @ 4:45pm
            Shane D said | August 8th 2017 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

            My mother in law is the definition of a one eyed cantab supporter. I find it very hard to watch a game with her!

            • Roar Rookie

              August 8th 2017 @ 4:57pm
              piru said | August 8th 2017 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

              The lack of feeling between NZ provinces

              You wot mate?

              My father in law tells a great story (every time I see him) about staying in a pub in Otago with the rugby on the telly and not understanding why some All Blacks tries got cheers and others didn’t.

              The ones that didn’t were from the ‘wrong’ province.

    • Roar Guru

      August 7th 2017 @ 3:55pm
      pformagg said | August 7th 2017 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

      I would have Todd over Cane any day of the week, considering his combo with Read at 8.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 5:26pm
        The Grafter said | August 7th 2017 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

        I think it’s a size thing. Todd has had a huge year and would do the jersey proud.

        • August 7th 2017 @ 8:33pm
          Council said | August 7th 2017 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

          Yeah but did you see how immense Cane was in the Lions series?

          Hansen mentioned today that it’s Todd’s only being a specialist 7 that is hurting him being in the squad, though he will be in later this year.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 8:02am
            Jerry said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:02am | ! Report

            If Cane went down injured in training, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Todd brought into start with Ardie staying on the bench.

      • August 7th 2017 @ 5:28pm
        cuw said | August 7th 2017 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

        ditto that .

        also note – Read plays better with Todd.

        but it seems NZ coaches are not in love with turnovers , so ….

        err size? i would harzard saying Todd is bigger than Cane. and even if there is a difference between the two , it will be like a couple of centimeters or killos.

        • August 8th 2017 @ 8:03am
          Jerry said | August 8th 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

          4cm and 4kg according to their listed weight & height. That’s not nothing.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 2:13pm
            cuw said | August 8th 2017 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

            Sam Cane : 1.89cm 103kg

            Matt Todd : 1.85cm 105kg

        • August 8th 2017 @ 11:01am
          Rugby Tragic said | August 8th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

          I’d be happy with either but I confess I’m a Cane fan…. and apparently Hansen is too … Shag does not make too many selections mistakes (outside of Chicago!). Sam Cane’s dominant tackles at the beginning of games and his ability to absorb the hits from fresh forwards is an advantage imo.

        • Roar Rookie

          August 8th 2017 @ 4:48pm
          Shane D said | August 8th 2017 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

          Cane is there for his defence early on especially.
          The AB’s don’t appear to view turnovers as a 7’s major role. The prefer the 7 to make a dominant tackle to create turnover opportunities for arriving players.
          When Cane sees the clear chance for a pilfer though he is handy at getting them.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 5:27pm
            timber said | August 8th 2017 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

            Which makes sense going forward because the new rules won’t be kind to pilfer players, dominant tackles\counter-rucking will become the best avenue to turn over ball.

          • August 8th 2017 @ 6:23pm
            cuw said | August 8th 2017 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

            @ Shane D

            so are u saying when Matt todd played the defence has been not good?

            i cannot remember him having a bad game for all blacks – its easy to remember coz they are so few πŸ™‚

            • Roar Rookie

              August 8th 2017 @ 10:17pm
              Shane D said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:17pm | ! Report

              Not saying that at all cuw.
              Cane is a more dominant tackler in my opinion.
              Todd is a fine defender but I think that Cane hits harder & stops the ball carrier behind the advantage line more often.
              The AB’s are well served by both but Cane seems to be a better fit for the game plan Hansen is looking to implement.

              • August 8th 2017 @ 10:32pm
                Fionn said | August 8th 2017 @ 10:32pm | ! Report

                I feel like the problem is that they have already backed the one horse for so long it is hard to then go back and change their mind and go for Todd. Idk, but I’ve felt for a couple of seasons that Todd is the better player, which isn’t to disparage Cane at all, they’re both class.

              • August 8th 2017 @ 11:45pm
                Rugby Tragic said | August 8th 2017 @ 11:45pm | ! Report

                Fionn, the issue regarding the 3 NZ No 7’s (Cane, Todd and Savea) has had plenty of discussion… the following thread relates to an article written by Ben Strang might throw some light on these three. Ypu might have seen this, but in the event you hadn’t, here it is.

                http://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/rugby-world-cup/82528201/Digging-the-data-What-stats-reveal-about-the-All-Blacks-No-7-debate

                This was from 12 months ago but I believe still valid though the various stats could be updated … It might also give some indication as to how Hansen views the patterns he wishes to play.

                Sam Cane, the incumbent if you like was immense against the BIL’s a few weeks back. That is not to say that Ardie Savea was not good, he was, but the impact was I think far greater by Sam Cane. If stats were updated, it is possible that Canes value might be enhanced further following the BIL series.

                I also think that this is much more important when opposition forward packs are fresh and full of energy, what Cane does in blunting that assault I feel is greatly underestimated by fans but not the AB Coaches. Anyhow you make your own mind up on the merits of the three.

    • August 7th 2017 @ 3:59pm
      puff said | August 7th 2017 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

      No surprises only concern, according to an article in NZ, Hansen and staff are looking beyond the 2019 WC. I note there is no slot for Todd, Shields, big Bird and a few others knocking on the door. There are a number of senior players who will be rested moving forward so the best possible squad will receive enough recovery time between other commitments. Looking at the talent assembled for the first Bledisloe there will be no place to hind when the boys do battle in Sydney. If the blacks are as committed as they look. Cheika will need to make smart positional selections and work the bench to optimize a strategy to give the Wallabies some level of ascendancy. Simple to say but difficult to look beyond the darkness.

    • August 7th 2017 @ 4:18pm
      KiwiHaydn said | August 7th 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

      How good is it being an All Blacks supporter?! More debate about who isn’t included than who is. Bring on Bledisloe I.

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