Richard Loe 's Opinion

Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: All Black selections require consistency

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Cory Jane's form doesn't warrant a squad place. Photo / Getty Images
Cory Jane's form doesn't warrant a squad place. Photo / Getty Images

There's no surprises in my All Black squad of 30 for the Tri Nations - even though I am usually of the mind to pick from form, rather than reputation.

To me, this is a fairly straightforward selection, with little room left for major drama. Form has been consistent, most of the players have been consistent and so selection becomes consistent, too.

This season has mostly been about consolidating those who have been selected before - and there is very little room for some to force their way in.

Having said that, there is nothing to stop the selectors sending some who haven't had much rugby or who haven't shown much form lately off to the ITM Cup - and then seeing if they rate highly enough to make the final World Cup squad.

In that boat, I'd place the following players: Cory Jane, Sitiveni Sivivatu, and maybe those on the injured list who have not been considered for this squad but who could yet be part of World Cup plans (Tony Woodcock, Anthony Boric and Israel Dagg).

If there are going to be three hookers, mine would be Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore and Corey Flynn (in a close call with Hika Elliot).

The props also sort themselves out easily: Owen Franks, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks and John Afoa.

The locks would be Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Ali Williams and Tom Donnelly.

I know some are suggesting Jarrad Hoeata might make the team as a back-up for Thorn but I'm not sure you need a back-up for him - and Donnelly has shown the ability before. I do concede, however, he might be one of those usefully shipped off to ITM Cup for more rugby.

The loose forwards would be Richie McCaw, Jerome Kaino and Kieran Read, backed up by Liam Messam and Adam Thomson. Messam probably covers No 8 and gives you more thrust but if there is a back-up specialist 7 for McCaw, my vote is for Matt Todd.

Halfbacks would be Jimmy Cowan, Piri Weepu (but on Jenny Craig) and Andy Ellis.

Earlier this season, my choice would have been Alby Mathewson over Ellis but the latter has come on strong, whereas Mathewson has faded badly.

Dan Carter would be backed up by Colin Slade. No Luke McAlister, no Stephen Donald and I do not favour Aaron Cruden - though it is possible he will be in the official selection. Slade offers more and I don't think Cruden's kicking is up to it yet.

The midfield would be Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith (and I've have them starting) with Sonny Bill Williams on the bench and Richard Kahui as back-up and covering wing as well.

Wingers would be Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford and I will stick to my choice of Sean Maitland.

Fullbacks would be Mils Muliaina and Isaia Toeava, who can also cover wing and centre, should needs be.

That means no Sivivatu and no Jane - and I don't think either deserve a place as yet. However, maybe this will be the kick up the bum both need and they could yet force their way into the World Cup squad.

Richard Loe's squad

Hookers: Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore, Corey Flynn.Props: Owen Franks, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, John Afoa.

Locks: Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Ali Williams, Tom Donnelly.

Loose forwards: Richie McCaw, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read, Adam Thomson, Liam Messam.

Halfbacks: Jimmy Cowan, Piri Weepu, Andy Ellis.

First fives: Dan Carter, Colin Slade.

Centres: Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Richard Kahui.

Wings: Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford, Sean Maitland.

Fullbacks: Mils Muliaina, Isaia Toeava.

- Herald on Sunday

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Richard Loe

Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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