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

Richard Loe: Strength in numbers doesn't wash

Steve Hansen. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Steve Hansen. Photo / Mark Mitchell

I am not totally sure I see the benefits of having 35 players in the All Black squad due to be announced this week.

I know that All Black coach Steve Hansen will be wanting to get some new players in the All Black environment, even if they are not going to play against Ireland - and I understand that.

As readers of this column will know, I am a big fan of selecting on form and feel that if you haven't got the form, you shouldn't be there. I am not totally convinced that having some older stagers around (who are out of form) will be all that effective.

However, as I selected the Richard Loe squad, I could see that there are a few new young faces and maybe it would be good to have some senior All Blacks around, even if they don't play against Ireland either.

Even so, I struggled to get this squad up to 35 - and I would select only 33, with five new All Blacks.

Dan Carter would be in the squad but I just wouldn't take the risk of playing him against Ireland if his groin is not right - and that's the assumption I have made with this team.

I thought long and hard about bringing in Tom Taylor and Beauden Barrett, as they both may not quite be ready for the All Blacks yet and this will almost certainly differ from the selectors' squad.

However, I just think Carter is too valuable to risk. Taylor got the nod, as I think he is better at steering a team round the paddock and his goal kicking is pretty deadly.

I have only two players people could consider bolters in my squad - Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara and Crusaders lock Luke Romano.

Perenara would be my No2 halfback behind Andy Ellis, as I think he is a real livewire who would profit from coming off the bench.

The Highlanders' Aaron Smith has been playing well and is in the squad but won't play - and neither would Piri Weepu, who would be there to mentor these two.

I just think Perenara offers a bit more all round the park and I think the other new halfback, the Chiefs' Tawera Kerr-Barlow, isn't far away either.

Both rate just ahead of Brendon Leonard at the moment, for me.

Romano is a physical player who has come on well this year and is playing better at present than Jarrad Hoeata.

It would be out of those two to sit on the bench against Ireland, as I think the starting locks should be Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick.

Ali Williams? He'd be in the squad but he is so far out of it at the moment that he wouldn't be anywhere near playing.

The sharp-eyed among you will have seen there is no Zac Guildford, Liam Messam or Ben Smith and no room for players such as Luke Braid who have been regarded as up-and-comers previously.

I think Guildford needs to be hungrier to get back in the All Blacks, Messam still has to prove himself at this level, Smith loses out to Taylor on form and Braid to Todd on the same basis - but the selectors could well have all or some of them in their 35-man squad.

Richard Loe's All Black squad

Squad players in brackets to denote they would not be in the 22 for the tests against Ireland:

Hookers: Andrew Hore, Hika Elliot, (Keven Mealamu - injured).
Props: Tony Woodcock, Owen Franks, Ben Franks, (Wyatt Crockett, with Charlie Faumuina the next cab off the rank here).
Locks: Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, (Jarrad Hoeata, Ali Williams).
Loose forwards: Richie McCaw, Victor Vito, Kieran Read, Adam Thomson, (Matt Todd).
Halfbacks: Andy Ellis, TJ Perenara, (Aaron Smith, Piri Weepu).
First fives: Aaron Cruden, Tom Taylor, (Beauden Barrett, Dan Carter).
Midfield: Sonny Bill Williams, Conrad Smith, (Ma'a Nonu).
Wings: Cory Jane, Richard Kahui, (Hosea Gear).
Fullbacks: Israel Dagg, Andre Taylor.

- Herald on Sunday

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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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