Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play



  • 2017 is out of the way, and all the top sides will start looking towards 2019. There is probably really only the June internationals 2018 for NH & SH to experiment a bit, it will be full strength for the 2018 6N, and the EOYT 2018 will be used by NZ as a dry run for the RWC knockouts you would think, especially with a match against England on the cards.

    So with only 31 players available for a RWC squad, where is NZ at?

    1. LH Prop

    Moody is a cert. I think Crockett will be gone. Steve Hansen has said the ABs want Atu Moli to switch permanently to LH. And there is Kane Hames. You suspect Moody starting, Hames as squad starting back-up, Moli as bench option is the plan.

    3. TH Prop

    Franks. Laulala. Tu'angafasi. Franks as the starter. Laulala as the back-up. Ofa as the bench option - should be in prime form by the time we reach 2019.

    RWC => Likely only 5 props taken, my pick is Moody, Moli, Franks, Laulala and Tu'angafasi.

    2. Hooker

    Coles, Taylor and Aumua. Surely Aumua will go past Harris and maybe even Taylor.

    RWC => Coles, Taylor, Aumua

    4 & 5. Locks

    Retallick, Whitelock, and Barrett are certainties for mine. I was quite disappointed in PT's tour. Romano is getting on a bit. Don't think Bird is good enough, and might be heading overseas

    RWC => Retallick, Whitelock, Barrett and I'll say Tuipolotu, but there is a room for a new face, or the ABs might go with the 6/emergency lock like they did for 2015

    6, 7 & 8. Loose-forwards

    Cane, Read are certainties. After that it becomes murky. For back-up 7 Todd has currently overtaken Savea. The selectors seem to favour Squire as the 6, but we have Kaino, Fafita and Ioane in the mix. It could be argued the 2 best 6 options (Vito, Luatua) are overseas.

    RWC => Cane, Read, Todd, Ioane, Squire

    9. Halfback

    Smith, TJP and maybe the Crusaders Drummond. You'd think TKB would start for any other test side, aside from Ireland...

    RWC => Smith, TJP, Drummond

    10. First-five

    I'm just going to say RWC => Barrett starting, Mounga as starting backup, McKenzie as 10/15 supersub

    12, 13. Centres

    Coaches preferred starting pair is SBW & Crotty. Last RWC squad has 2 more centres, I'd say ALB and either Laumape or Goodhue. It's the joke on here, but if Ngatai has an injury free 2018 and a good season, he is not totally out of the picture.

    RWC => SBW, ALB, Crotty, Goodhue or Laumape

    11, 14, 15

    Who knows? Ioane and Smith would seem certainties. Last RWC we took 4. So I'd say Jordie Barrett and NMS. Of the other options (Naholo, Dagg, Savea, Havili, Tamanivalu, Duffie) it will take something special. Dagg has past form, but he is slower and slower these days.

    RWC => Ioane, Smith, Barrett, NMS.

    I think we are in a good spot 2 years out - we need to find a settled 6 and a back-up 8, work out who really are the 4 best midfielders, and choose from the usual range of wing/fullback options. There are always newbies, certain positions are asking for a bolter: a 4th lock, 6/8, 3rd halfback strike me as the most likely.



  • I enjoyed pondering that. Not much I disagree with.

    I am wondering if SBW will last until 2019 and also Franks. I thought Laulala had a sensational year.

    In saying that if SBW still fit and able he will be there.

    Can we assume 3-5 of those will be injured/unavailable come 2019 which begs the question of wh is WC quality, next in line



  • reckon the lock/loosie area is one that there is potential for a player or 2 to emerge.



  • I can't see NMS making it to the world cup. Too many injuries, not enough pace, not enough size.



  • I'd suggest NMS is further down the pecking order. Fantastic player but in 2017 his form was not nearly as strong as 2015 and has huge trouble staying healthy.



  • I reckon with his pace, there is room for DMac to play the 14 role that NMS has, but with more pace.

    Wouldn't discount Dagg either, he and Smith work so well at the back together.



  • At the moment, Romano is our third best lock (and best bench option) and then there is daylight. It seems Pat.T and Barrett are having trouble adjusting to test rugby.



  • We might look back on this year as pivotal to the 2019 campaign because Shag has been able to expose a large group of untested players to international rugby. He has plenty of options to choose from



  • Moli ahead of Crockett and (more likely IMO) Hames is an interesting call.

    His conversion to loosehead is going to be pretty dependent on Colin Cooper buying into that plan and it's a bit hard to see why Cooper would. He's picked three tightheads and three looseheads for the coming season and you'd imagine Plan A will be mainly Hames and Graham playing loosehead and mainly Laulala and Moli playing tighthead.

    Can't disagree to much with the rest, though, right now, I'd tend to think it would be a choice of either DMac or Jordie, but probably not both.



  • DMac is an interesting one. Derided by most on here (with good reason), his early starts were very inconsistent to put it nicely. However imho he has improved greatly and looks like he's fitting in well, taking guys on without trying to hard. 2018 will be a massive year for him



  • @kiwimurph said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    I'd suggest NMS is further down the pecking order. Fantastic player but in 2017 his form was not nearly as strong as 2015 and has huge trouble staying healthy.

    could be an 11 cap all black with a RWC winners medal!

    Better than Pauliasi Manu -- uncapped, with a medal I believe 😉



  • Reading the news it appears R.Ioane might be a better centre then wing come 2019. If our players are fit that squad will be pretty hard to beat. I'm really looking forward to the Super season next year to see how all the fringe players perform.



  • @chimoaus is an interesting one, because if he was at centre he plays a more structured position whereas on the wing he gets to roam a bit more, gets kick returns, so if he is at 13 it might not have the same opportunities?



  • @nzzp said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    Better than Pauliasi Manu -- uncapped, with a medal I believe

    Make a great trivia question down the track.



  • @nzzp said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    @kiwimurph said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    I'd suggest NMS is further down the pecking order. Fantastic player but in 2017 his form was not nearly as strong as 2015 and has huge trouble staying healthy.

    could be an 11 cap all black with a RWC winners medal!

    Better than Pauliasi Manu -- uncapped, with a medal I believe 😉

    If he doesn't make it back Nehe will be able to hang his hat on being one of the stars of the 2015 event. His play during that short run was superb, apart from a little bit of trouble with bombs



  • @canefan not so much the issue with the bombs in that was more he is undertall....



  • @taniwharugby said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    @chimoaus is an interesting one, because if he was at centre he plays a more structured position whereas on the wing he gets to roam a bit more, gets kick returns, so if he is at 13 it might not have the same opportunities?

    Yeah I agree, if he plays like he did this year I doubt the coaches will want to move him.



  • Also there could be a player or 2 to come from nowhere and make the squad ,

    We may not even know their names yet , but sometimes guys just seem to burst onto the scene at the right time and say pick me ,

    NMS at the last WC comes to mind



  • Our top back three is 11. R Ioane 14. B Smith 15. J Barrett - that has the best balance to it.

    I can see Rieko moving to centre down the track but while he has his pace he's best suited to the wing at test level, he can break tight tests apart if he gets half a yard of space.



  • @taniwharugby said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    @canefan not so much the issue with the bombs in that was more he is undertall....

    Most would write short, small or diminutive but you've created a whole new word. Great work.



  • @mn5 said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    @taniwharugby said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    @canefan not so much the issue with the bombs in that was more he is undertall....

    Most would write short, small or diminutive but you've created a whole new word. Great work.

    Made me laugh. I would now describe myself as undershort but that sounds like a product from Jockey.



  • @no-quarter said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    Our top back three is 11. R Ioane 14. B Smith 15. J Barrett - that has the best balance to it.

    I can see Rieko moving to centre down the track but while he has his pace he's best suited to the wing at test level, he can break tight tests apart if he gets half a yard of space.

    While im a jordie fan too and im not disagreeing at the potential of this back 3 , it looks a winner on paper ,

    We probably need to see it in a few tests first , correct me if im wrong but we havent seen it yet ?



  • On the loose forward combo...
    I had high hopes for Akira, Blake Gibson and Blade Thomson, but Akira seems to be not quite the finished article - Gibson is a tireless workhorse who punches way above his weight but also maybe undertall for what is required these days and Thomson seems to be continually injured...
    I'm hoping Akira makes the grade...



  • @kiwiinmelb said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    @no-quarter said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    Our top back three is 11. R Ioane 14. B Smith 15. J Barrett - that has the best balance to it.

    I can see Rieko moving to centre down the track but while he has his pace he's best suited to the wing at test level, he can break tight tests apart if he gets half a yard of space.

    While im a jordie fan too and im not disagreeing at the potential of this back 3 , it looks a winner on paper ,

    We probably need to see it in a few tests first , correct me if im wrong but we havent seen it yet ?

    That is a fair comment, not from memory. Fingers bloody crossed they all stay fit during 2018!



  • @kiwiinmelb Was wondering about that, too. The proven best back three IMO is 11. R Ioane, 14. I Dagg, 15. B Smith.



  • @crash said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    On the loose forward combo...
    I had high hopes for Akira, Blake Gibson and Blade Thomson, but Akira seems to be not quite the finished article - Gibson is a tireless workhorse who punches way above his weight but also maybe undertall for what is required these days and Thomson seems to be continually injured...
    I'm hoping Akira makes the grade...

    @taniwharugby you've created the ferns new word!!!



  • Dagg will be returning from another long spell and who knows how these injuries will affect his play? NMS the same. I trust Bender's class to keep him up there. Ioane has shown it only takes one season for an outsider to become a first pick. Mac has put the runs on the board and JB will have to play catchup.
    I don't think you can underestimate the work done in camp and if DMac has shown the selectors that not only will he work hard but listen to advice and put his body on the line time and time again that will count for a lot.

    There is an assumption on here that Harris is only filling a gap as third hooker yet Hansen singled him out for praise. There has to be a reason behind that. They will know stuff from training that we don't. e.g. I don't think anyone here has praised his contribution in some very key late scrummaging efforts. That kind of stuff is game winning.



  • Between now and RWC the players have two Super seasons, Two TRCs, one EOYT, a home tour by the French....

    that is a lot of rugby before settling on a team.

    IMO the one thing that may undo Eddie Jones and England is his (necessary) focus on building a RWC squad. The work he is having to put in will leave little room for latecomers and despite trying not to, he will probably have to start inking players in from the 6N next year.

    After this difficult year, what we have, is a much larger group that has gained experience in the AB environment and felt pressure. The coaches have also had to go out of their comfort zone bringing in players they may not have wanted to stretch so early and discovered how to make it work.

    I think they will have less qualms on trusting new in form players if the 'old hands' are slowing.

    I can see a number of players that could quite possibly not be the number one picks come 2019.

    Franks, Coles, Whitelock, Squire, A Smith, SBW, Crotty, Dagg....I'm even wondering about Read.

    Not saying all of the above or even a majority, but these are names that it wouldn't surprise me if they don't go to Japan (or do so as second stringers)



  • @crucial said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    Between now and RWC the players have two Super seasons, Two TRCs, one EOYT, a home tour by the French....

    that is a lot of rugby before settling on a team.

    IMO the one thing that may undo Eddie Jones and England is his (necessary) focus on building a RWC squad. The work he is having to put in will leave little room for latecomers and despite trying not to, he will probably have to start inking players in from the 6N next year.

    After this difficult year, what we have, is a much larger group that has gained experience in the AB environment and felt pressure. The coaches have also had to go out of their comfort zone bringing in players they may not have wanted to stretch so early and discovered how to make it work.

    I think they will have less qualms on trusting new in form players if the 'old hands' are slowing.

    I can see a number of players that could quite possibly not be the number one picks come 2019.

    Franks, Coles, Whitelock, Squire, A Smith, SBW, Crotty, Dagg....I'm even wondering about Read.

    Not saying all of the above or even a majority, but these are names that it wouldn't surprise me if they don't go to Japan (or do so as second stringers)

    I agree with most of these names, except Sam Whitelock and Read. IMO, Whitelock is as certain as Retallick. Read, only if he falls apart (they're not going to replace a fit captain & there's no reasonable alternative in sight). A Smith, I'm not quite seeing the competition yet (definitely not before 2019), unless Perenara steps up.

    You are wondering about Read, I'm wondering about Ben Smith. Just like Crotty, only for health reasons.



  • Whitelock should be there, and we would want him there. I just think he may be a candidate for falling by the wayside as wear and tear takes hold.
    I guess what I am saying is that there is a lot of time for second stringers to overtake others who have form drop offs due to age/injury combinations.
    I hope we can put out a vastly experienced but fit and firing squad in Japan, just being realistic that not all of these guys are going to make it.



  • @chimoaus said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    @taniwharugby said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    @chimoaus is an interesting one, because if he was at centre he plays a more structured position whereas on the wing he gets to roam a bit more, gets kick returns, so if he is at 13 it might not have the same opportunities?

    Yeah I agree, if he plays like he did this year I doubt the coaches will want to move him.

    Work on in 2020 for 2023 RWC...



  • @no-quarter said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    Our top back three is 11. R Ioane 14. B Smith 15. J Barrett - that has the best balance to it.

    I can see Rieko moving to centre down the track but while he has his pace he's best suited to the wing at test level, he can break tight tests apart if he gets half a yard of space.

    The average age of your best three is just under 24, which is ideal!



  • Who are our young and promising locks? There doesn't seem to be too many coming through. Was somewhat impressed with Louisi this year, especially the game he had against the Lions. Apart from him, can't think of any other young lock that has stood out this year.



  • @akan004 said in Countdown to RWC 2019 - ABs state of the play:

    Who are our young and promising locks? There doesn't seem to be too many coming through. Was somewhat impressed with Louisi this year, especially the game he had against the Lions. Apart from him, can't think of any other young lock that has stood out this year.

    I thought Louisi was very good actually! Much better than I thought he would be. Quentin strange looks a very good player also but could do with bulking up



  • @family-man Yeah, was impressed with Strange on the few occasions he had a run for the Crusaders but he was underwhelming in the Mitre 10 imo. Definitely needs to bulk up considerably. The average weight for a lock at International level is now 120kgs and he looks to be well short of that.

    Is there anyone else coming through?



  • @akan004 Fatialofa? Albeit already 25, he still had a promising super campaign.



  • @sapetyvi Is he big enough in your opinion? I don't know, he seems to be a decent Super Rugby lock but am not sure if he can step up to Test footy. Happy to be proven wrong though.



  • Thought Cowley-Tuioti looked handy.



  • @akan004 Reckon he is bigger than S. Barrett?
    Hard to judge, he has been very good in Super, but seems injury prone. If he had not missed the Lions game we would be smarter.

    Lousi probably closer, has the size and has also shown the skills in super.



  • Not sure we have to look far for a lock. There's no reason why Pat T with a decent season behind him can't step up a touch further.
    Not all players are at their best straight off the bat. Look at Romano. Most are happy with him at the moment but he wasn't so convincing a couple of seasons ago


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