11 May 2012

New All Black Squad - Will Steve Hansen stamp his mark?

Tomorrow, Steve Hansen and his assistants will announce their first All Blacks squad in charge. Don't expect too many changes. He has hinted to the media that his vision for the future is 'evolution rather than revolution'.

Their conundrum though will be whether to stick or twist with some of their established players. Does he back some of the All Blacks who have been flailing in this years Super 15, in the knowledge that whenever they have pulled on a black jersey in the past they have played like Superman or does he reward form?

Graham Henry certainly in the past believed that form was temporary while class was permanent. Last year Weepu, Nonu and Jane all did the business for him when the going got tough, despite enduring poor form in the Super 15 and that is something Hansen surely will take into consideration. However Henry was also known for pulling the odd bolter out of the hat.

If the new coaches decide that they want to make their own imprint on the team, it will be fascinating to see which bolters are selected. There have been a group of youngsters which have sparkled this year in the Super 15. Andre Taylor, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, Robbie Fruean and Tom Taylor are just a few of those players. It is most probable that only one or two of that group will get a chance, as one of the men assisting Hansen in his quest to determine the NZ squad is Grant Fox; a notoriously harsh selector.

We will have to wait until tomorrow. For now though, here is my selection if I had the duties!

NZ Squad 2012


Tony Woodock (Blues)
Owen Franks (Crusaders)
Ben Franks (Crusaders)
Charlie Faumuina (Blues)


Andrew Hore (Highlanders)
Keven Mealamu (Blues)
Hika Elliott (Chiefs)


Sam Whiteleock (Crusaders)
Tom Donnelly (Crusaders)
Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)
Jason Eaton (Hurricanes)

Back Row

Richie McCaw (Crusaders)
Kieran Reid (Crusaders)
Adam Thomson (Highlanders)
Victor Vito (Hurricanes)
Liam Messam (Chiefs)

Scrum Half

Aaron Smith (Highlanders)
Andy Ellis (Crusaders)
Brendon Leonard (Chiefs)

Fly Half

Dan Carter (Crusaders)
Aaron Cruden (Chiefs)


Ma'a Nonu (Blues)
Sonny Bill Williams (Chiefs)
Richard Kahui (Crusaders)
Conrad Smith (Hurricanes)


Corey Jane (Hurricanes)
Ben Smith (Highlanders)
Robbie Fruean (Crusaders)

Full Back

Israel Dagg (Crusaders)
Andre Taylor (Hurricanes)

There are a couple of notable absentees in my squad. For example Ali Williams, Piri Weepu and Hosea Gear. The first two have either been in terrible form or in awful shape and I think it is time the All Blakcs start to look beyond them. As for Gear, statistically he is still impressive, but his work-rate is quite low and given the wealth of NZ outside backs, I think there are better options. Ben Smith could also turn into something special at international level....he has an intelligence on the field like his namesake at the Hurricanes Conrad Smith.

Lock could also be a position of dispute. Craig Clarke has played well this year for the Chiefs and could well make the squad but I have a feeling Hansen will want to have some experience around (such as Donnelly and Eaton), if Retallick is picked as one of the four. Clarke despite having a wealth of experienc at Super Rugby level is uncapped internationally.

I have included Robbie Fruean on the wing too as I think he could do a job there and would not have to worry so much about his defensive reading of the game or his distribution. Also, given the versatility of Kahui and the fact that both Taylor and Dagg can also cover wing, it could be possible that Fruean is given a chance in the centres too if included.

Who would be in your squad? Do you dsagree with any of my selections?


  1. Wow, this is tomorrow? Slipped right past me.

    I'm not confident Robbie Fruean or Leonard will get picked, and I'd be surprised if he didn't fit Ali Williams in.

  2. I wouldn't pick Donnelly. I think Elliot is in a battle with Flynn. I agree with Mike. While I think Williams and Weepu have been poor this season, they will be included. I like TJ Perenara.

  3. @Mike, yes I wouldn't say i'm confident either will get picked. However this is not a prediction..just who I would pick. I really don't think Williams deserves selection though...and it would be giving out a bad signal to players in form. There have been a reasonable number of locks who have played well.

    @Scotty. Who would you pick in Donnelly's place? Clarke maybe of the Chiefs or maybe one of the Highlanders? As an outside punt...Nick Crosswell has played well in that position since he was shifted there by Jamie Joseph.

    As for Perenara I definitely think he is one for the future, but like Kerr-Barlow I think he's a little green for International rugby. Aaron Smith out of the 3 is the most polished at the moment, so I would give him a shot. Therefore to add experience I would have Ellis and Leonard with him, but I wouldn't be surprised if Hansen chose Weepu either.