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The Men in All Black

The World Cup is a thing of the past and it's time to look to the future for the All Blacks now that the international rugby calendar is upon us once again.

The hangover from a World Cup can be a dangerous thing, as it's never pleasant to axe a hero and coaches need to hope that the star players hang up their boots at the right time.


As things stand there is no need to worry about selecting a captain for the All Blacks, as there would be a genocide in New Zealand if anyone suggested dropping the legendary Richie McCaw – and rightly so.


The balance needs to come when picking players for the future, but keeping enough experience in place to avoid losing the momentum that was created last year. The question is who to axe and who to keep?


McCaw and the other posterboy Dan Carter are still great value and only a fool wouldn't utilise their skills and experience, while it is important to have enough youth coming through to have some healthy competition.


We've introduced Andre Taylor at fullback as just reward for a terrific season with the Hurricanes, while Aaron Smith is the kind of scrumhalf New Zealand rugby has been crying out to produce for years.


Front row forwards are known for improving with time and both Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock are worth their weight in gold, and they are not small boys.


The second row is probably our most controversial area, with Tom Donnelly receiving a recall and Chiefs ace Brodie Retallick preferred to Sam Whitelock.


While there is a lot of hype surrounding Sonny Bill Williams he has only managed to find a place for him on the bench, as the combination of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith is tried and trusted and superb.


If Steve Hansen isn't reading, he should be… All Blacks team: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Tom Donnelly, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.

Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Victor Vito, 19 Samuel Whitelock, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Sonny Bill Williams.


By Timmy Hancox


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