Crusaders stars set to miss out on All Black selection
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Scott Robertson will spend the early part of Super Rugby grand final week ensuring his Crusaders players aren’t emotionally affected by the high of All Blacks selection or the low of rejection.
A New Zealand squad for the Rugby Championship of up to 41 players will be announced on Tuesday and is expected to feature it’s usual hefty contingent of Crusaders.
That’s no surprise given they’ve unfurled another dominant campaign which has them on the cusp of three straight titles if they beat the Jaguares in Saturday’s Christchurch decider.
While the bulk of Robertson’s forward pack are cast-iron certainties to have their names read out by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, a host of backs are in the fringe category and provide some of the biggest talking points.
There is a logjam of talent out wide, where David Havili and George Bridge are both contenders to add to their small Test resumes.
Uncapped pair Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor have been arguably the most exciting runners in the competition. Wing Reece is the leading try-scorer with 15 while Ennor has the precious asset of versatility.
Working against them is that Hansen will probably only take four outside back specialists to the World Cup and that accomplished trio Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett can already book their tickets.
Robertson accepts it could be a difficult announcement for his team dynamic.
He has urged those players who miss the cut not to give up on their World Cup ambitions later in the year.
“They’re going to be disappointed if they don’t make it,” Robertson said.
“We’ll just treat that head-on and congratulate the guys who make it. The ones that haven’t, we’ll get around them and console them and then potentially realise there’s going to be another opportunity if they play well in the final and keep putting pressure on.”
Any Crusaders players who make the cut won’t be involved in the opening Test against Argentina on July 21 as Hansen wants them well rested after the final.
He will trim his squad to about 34 ahead of two Tests against Australia, in Perth on August 10 and Auckland a week later.