All Blacks: Legends rate RWC squad

By Hayden Donnell

The All Blacks squad for the Rugby World Cup has been announced, with some players unlucky to miss out, according to several All Black legends. Photo / Getty Images
The All Blacks squad for the Rugby World Cup has been announced, with some players unlucky to miss out, according to several All Black legends. Photo / Getty Images

Rugby greats have hit out at a decision to include veteran lock Ali Williams in All Blacks squad for the Rugby World Cup, but they are applauding a decision to include wing Zac Guildford at in the squad at the expense of Sitiveni Sivivatu and Hosea Gear.

Iconic former All Black captain and lock Colin Meads said he worried about the match fitness of experienced players such as Williams and prop Tony Woodcock, who are both coming back from long injury layoffs.

In-form young players such as Canterbury prop Wyatt Crockett were unlucky to miss out on selection, Mr Meads said.

"Some of the older ones on the team I worry about. The Ali Williams, Woodcock - they were the two I was not impressed with."

Mr Meads said Zac Guildford had earned his place in the side through his high work rate and energy around the field.

Wayne 'Buck' Shelford said Williams' selection over Taranaki lock Jarrad Hoeata was disappointing after he had a poor outing against the Springboks in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

"I don't think Ali is up for it any more... Hoeata would have been a better options with him being young and being around for the next four years.

"His workrate is down. He's going to have to pick his act up that's for sure. Around the field he's just doing nothing most of the time."

Mr Shelford said it was difficult to justify picking Williams on experience when veteran wing Sivivatu was left out in favour of Guildford - a relative newcomer to the team.

Former All Black lock Andy Haden disagreed with the pair's assessment.

He said Williams was the most in form lock in the country, followed by fellow All Black inclusions Sam Whitelock and Brad Thorne.

"He is the strongest at the basics. He does the core job of a lock the best."

Mr Haden said midfielder Sonny Bill Williams was lucky to be included in the squad on recent form - but had likely been picked as a potential game breaker alongside potential starting fullback Israel Dagg.

Graham Mourie, a former flanker who captained the All Blacks in 57 tests, said the side selected today was a good balance of youth and experience.

He said the selectors had valued players who worked hard and the ability to perform well under pressure.

Colin Meads

On Zac Guildford: "He's all over the field. If he was on the field Saturday he'd have scored a couple of tries."

On the selection of Tony Woodcock over Wyatt Crockett: "I think Wyatt Crocket is the unlucky one. I'd have thought he'd be picked on his performance."

Wayne "Buck" Shelford

On the selection of Ali Williams: "I don't think Ali is up for it any more... Hoeata would have been a better options with him being young and being around for the next four years."

On Liam Messam missing out: "I'm disappointed for Liam. Victor Vito hasn't had a great season."

Andy Haden

On Ali Williams: "Ali Williams is the number one lock in the country."

On Sonny Bill Williams: "Sonny Bill Williams is a bit lucky to be there and is probably there because they've gone for some game breaker type contribution."

Graham Mourie

On the squad: "They've made the tough calls. They've gone for players with high workrates and that can perform under pressure... They can win it."

The All Blacks Rugby World Cup squad

Forwards:

Corey Flynn, Canterbury

Andrew Hore, Taranaki

Keven Mealamu, Auckland

John Afoa, Auckland

Ben Franks, Tasman

Owen Franks, Canterbury

Tony Woodcock, North Harbour

Anthony Boric, North Harbour

Brad Thorn, Canterbury

Samuel Whitelock, Canterbury

Ali Williams, Auckland

Jerome Kaino, Auckland

Richie McCaw, (capt) Canterbury

Kieran Read, Canterbury

Adam Thomson, Otago

Victor Vito, Wellington

Backs:

Jimmy Cowan, Southland

Andy Ellis, Canterbury

Piri Weepu, Wellington

Daniel Carter, Canterbury

Colin Slade, Canterbury

Richard Kahui, Waikato

Ma'a Nonu, Wellington

Conrad Smith, Wellington

Sonny Bill Williams, Canterbury

Israel Dagg, Hawke's Bay

Zac Guildford, Hawke's Bay

Cory Jane, Wellington

Mils Muliaina, Waikato

Isaia Toeava, Auckland

Your views

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 25 Oct 2014 20:32:31 Processing Time: 583ms