Rugby: Are these the All Blacks to take down British Lions?

All Blacks Jerome Kaino and captain Kieran Read perform the haka during the Bledisloe test match against Australia. Photo/Brett Phibbs
All Blacks Jerome Kaino and captain Kieran Read perform the haka during the Bledisloe test match against Australia. Photo/Brett Phibbs

This summer, New Zealand welcomes the British and Irish Lions for the first time since 2005, when they crushed Sir Clive Woodward's bickering tourists.

The Daily Telegraph have already tried their hand at selection who they think will be on the Lions plane, but what about the All Blacks, the No 1 team in the world?

Here's who they think will be in Steve Hansen's 33-man squad, based on reputation and form ...

PROP

Owen Franks
The cornerstone of the All Blacks scrum. The 29-year-old tighthead is fast approaching 100 caps for his country and is renowned for his strength ... it is said he can squat 280kg.

Charlie Faumuina
Faumuina is leaving for French Top 14 side Toulouse once the Super Rugby campaign finishes and once he joins up with Toulouse, he will be ineligible for selection.

Until then, he remains a key member of the match-day 23 for his ability to play on either side of the scrum.

Joe Moody
The Crusaders loosehead is a formidable scrummager and immensely strong. He represented New Zealand at wrestling, which means that he is impossible to shift when over the ball and is an expert pilferer on the floor.

Wyatt Crockett
A mobile loosehead prop, Crockett's work rate around the paddock is comparable to that of a loose forward. AT 34, this will be his last chance to face the Lions.

Ofa Fu'ungafasi
Solid, if not spectacular, 24-year-old loosehead Tu'ungafasi is seen as one for the future and can only improve, training alongside the likes of fellow No 1 Joe Moody.

HOOKER

Dane Coles
The best No 2 in the world, of that there are no doubts. He has the strength and work-rate of a forward, and the pace and passing skills of a back ... a lethal combination.

Codie Taylor
Unfortunately for an No 2 playing in New Zealand, they will forever be the bridesmaid, never the bride, while Dane Coles is around. However, Taylor is an able back-up.

Liam Coltman
Unlikely to see much game time in the tests, 27-year-old Coltman is nevertheless an impressive athlete, a skilled surfer and can play at prop or hooker.

LOCK

Sam Whitelock
The enforcer. Crusaders star Whitelock is a giant of a man, all muscle and hair, and is not afraid to front up and throw his considerable weight about, when the going gets violent.

Brodie Retallick
Pound-for-pound, the best second rower in the world. The 25-year-old's battle with likely Lions lock Maro Itoje will be one to savour.

Luke Romano
The All Blacks' strength in the depth at lock is the envy of the world, with only England able to pick from a similarly impressive production line. Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick from NZ's first-choice second row, but it will not decrease in quality, when Romano comes on.

Patrick Tuipolotu
A giant of a man who was recently cleared of doping and had a provisional suspension lifted. He is in this squad by the skin of his teeth and could easily lose it to the likes of Vaea Fifita or Scott Barrett.

BACK ROW

Jerome Kaino
A beast of a bloke, 33-year-old Kaino is considered one of the game's great blindside flankers and is often compared to the great Jerry Collins for his uncompromising physical style.

Sam Cane
Unfussy and uncompromising. The 25-year-old is seen by many as the heir to Richie McCaw.

Kieran Read
The finest No 8 in the world. Billy Vunipola pushes him close and it will be fascinating to watch the two go head-to-head in the test series.

Liam Squire
The 26-year-old Highlander star is a bit of a late bloomer, but makes the squad courtesy of his power and size, as well as his mobility and impressive line-out skills.

Matt Todd
Similar to Same Cane in his ability to steal opposition ball or slow the play down. A traditional openside in the mould of Neil Back.

Jordan Taufua
A bit of a controversial choice, as he takes the place of Elliot Dixon or Steven Luatua, but Taufua is an all-court player with an ability to play anywhere across the back line. A great man to have on the bench to cover several positions.

Ardie Savea
Brother of Julian and a fireball on the pitch. The 23-year-old has had to wait his turn, with the likes of Liam Messam and Victor Vito previously ahead of him in the pecking order, but now he should be nailed on for the openside flanker role.

SCRUMHALF

Aaron Smith
Who is the No 1 number nine in the world? Before his airport toilet tryst, Highlanders star Smith was the undoubted choice, but he has since gone off the boil and Ireland's Conor Murray is now top of the tree. Whoever comes out on top in the test series will claim bragging rights.

TJ Perenara
Arguably the best No 9 in New Zealand at present. He will probably have to settle for a place on the bench, behind Aaron Smith, but that could change if the Lions win the first test.

Augustine Pulu
With Tawera Kerr-Barlow leaving for France at the end of the season, he misses out, giving Pulu his chance to really stake a claim. And the Blues No 9 deserves it, with some stand-out displays for a stuttering Auckland outfit.

FLYHALF

Beauden Barrett
The current world player of the year and absolutely mesmeric with ball in hand. He has the pace of a wing, the pass of a scrumhalf and his kicking out of hand is something else. The only thing that can let him down are shots at goal.

Aaron Cruden
Another All Black who will be disappearing off to France, come the end of this season, this time to Montpellier. The selectors could make an example of him and say good riddance, but he's too good for that. If NZ want to win this series, Cruden should be Beauden Barrett's back-up. Damian McKenzie can also play No 10 if required, so Lima Sopoaga is the man to miss out.

CENTRE

Ryan Crotty
A versatile midfielder, who can slot in at inside or outside centre. He may not light up the field like Ma'a Nonu or Sonny Bill Williams, but Crotty does the basics well and makes very few mistakes.

Malakai Fekitoa
A lot has been expected of Fekitoa, since he burst onto the scene as a teenage prodigy and although he seems to have plateaued somewhat, there's no doubting his powerful running and abrasive defence. He just needs to stop dropping the ball so much and playing no-look passes.

Anton Leinart-Brown
Step aside Sonny Bill Williams, hello Anton Leinart-Brown. Anyone who saw New Zealand play Argentina last year witnessed a masterclass in off-loading from 21-year-old Leinart-Brown. A frighteningly good talent.

George Moala
The fourth and final place in the centres goes to Moala ... for now. If Charlie Ngatai had been fit and firing, he would be in with a shout, while Jordie Barrett and Seta Tamanivula can consider themselves unlucky. Moala, though, brings considerable athleticism and physicality, and will punch holes in any defence.

WING

Julian Savea
Hurricanes flyer Savea is an absolute train and once he builds up a head of steam, he's impossible to stop. Just like Jonah Lomu in his pomp, if you get in Savea's way, he will simply run over you.

Nehe Milner-Skudder
Willo the Wisp. Injury permitting, Milner-Skudder has to be in the side, because he is one of the most devastating open-play runners in world rugby. The 26-year-old is a Kiwi version of Jason Robinson. Waisake Naholo and Rieko Ioane, the 20-year-old young gun destined for bigger things, are the unfortunate men to miss out because of ...

Israel Dagg
Equally comfortable at wing or fullback, Dagg is one of the best under the high ball and has a mighty boot that continuously puts the opposition on the back foot. Injury permitting, he has to be in the squad.

FULLBACK

Ben Smith
It's hard to believe that, in his younger years, Smith wasn't considered that remarkable. What he was, though, was determined and tenacious, with a solid skill set. Now he is the finest fullback in world rugby.

Damian McKenzie
A real livewire. What McKenzie lacks in size, he makes up for with heart, a frightening turn of pace and an uncanny knack of slipping tackles. He can also play at No 10, if required.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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