@KiwiMurph said in Exodus 2019:
Piutau definitely makes the World Cup squad if he had signed on past the RWC. The way they justified Naholo was basically saying "if we are choosing between two players who are close and one is staying and one is going then we select the one who is staying".
Yeah I'll take what Hansen said with a grain of salt. Of course he would take the opportunity to say that. At one of his earlier June squad selections he volunteered that two guys would have been new caps except they signed overseas but were overlooked - and the fern couldn't even come to a general consensus who one of them would be.
He says stuff like that, just like you can't lose your spot in the starting squad to injury (until you do) or you can't be picked playing overseas (until you can).
If Piutau was staying they would have picked him - NZRU made him a multi year offer and iirc he made every AB squad from his debut in 2013 up until the RWC squad in 2015.
At the time Piatau signed the contract Dagg and Jane had made every squad (aside from injury) for a longer time than that, and played key roles in the 2011 campaign. Both were committed until 2017. Both provided versatility. Both did not make it.
He also provided more versatility than Naholo with the ability to cover fullback - not to mention he'd played 17 tests vs what 1 test Naholo had prior to RWC 2015?
Two good arguments for his inclusion - ignoring the best argument which was that he had a broken leg. I would have selected Piatau, I just don't think it's a slam dunk Hansen would have.
It's a moot point though given he signed in March. If committed perhaps he gets the opportunities given to NMS in the Bledisloe and takes them with both hands. But Hansen very obviously saw Naholo as a difference maker after Super Rugby and was so weirdly committed to him that despite a mixed debut and a broken leg he took him with the idea of playing him into enough fitness to make the first XV during the pool rounds.
Hansen didn't see him as a difference maker and even if he did get the last back three spot he almost certainly would have been outside the match day 23.
This all of course forgets the irony that Waisake Naholo signed overseas before Piatau that year but was able to get out of the deal.