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.


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