All Blacks: Slade to edge out Cruden

By Gregor Paul

Colin Slade. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Colin Slade. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Colin Slade, barely sighted in Super 15, was touted last night as the man who has won the nod to back-up Dan Carter.

The one-cap All Black played 40 minutes for Canterbury on Friday and is believed to have done all he needed to confirm his selection.

If Slade is named as the back-up first five, it will be a cruel blow for the only other serious contender, Aaron Cruden. A surge in form through the back half of Super Rugby saw Cruden establish himself as the best five eighth in the competition behind Carter.

But if the speculation is accurate, Slade has persuaded the selectors that his skill-set has more value. will have live updates of the All Blacks team announcement from 4pm.

His kicking is longer than Cruden's, his defence solid and, having played much of his career at fullback and wing, he's comfortable dropping deep to launch counter-attacks as the All Blacks desire of their first five.

There were theories that Cruden would still be named today with Slade listed with an asterisk - denoting he will play in the ITM Cup and then join the squad for the away leg of the Tri Nations in August.

There were also strong indications that Sitiveni Sivivatu will be the big casualty, with Jarrad Hoeata the major surprise. Sivivatu is thought to have missed out due to his lack of conditioning and focus and injury to Anthony Boric has left many predicting that Hoeata has made it ahead of Tom Donnelly.

Cory Jane is likely to be the main beneficiary of Sivivatu's expected axing. The form of the Hurricanes wing was patchy at best. If he is picked, it will be on reputation.

There were indications the panel have rejected the chance to select a specialist openside, preferring instead to rely on the versatility of Liam Messam, Adam Thomson and Kieran Read.

Given that Richie McCaw has hardly played, he'll be keen to be fully involved in the Tri Nations and there seems little point in carrying a back-up specialist.

The World Cup's restrictive rules around replacement players is a different matter, and it's possible the selectors will test Thomson at seven for small periods during the Tri Nations. If they don't see what they want, either Luke Braid or Matt Todd will be called up.

Possible All Black squad

Mils Muliaina, Isaia Toeava, Zac Guildford, Cory Jane, Hosea Gear, Richard Kahui, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Ma'a Nonu, Colin Slade, Daniel Carter, Andy Ellis, Jimmy Cowan, Piri Weepu, Kieran Read, Liam Messam, Adam Thomson, Richie McCaw, Jerome Kaino, Brad Thorn, Ali Williams, Sam Whitelock, Jarrad Hoeata, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, John Afoa, Corey Flynn, Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore.

Not considered due to injury: Israel Dagg, Anthony Boric, Tony Woodcock.

- Herald on Sunday

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