No one fully appreciated that as the All Blacks produced their World Cup-winning side in 2011, they were simultaneously building the core of their side to defend the trophy in 2015.

What's clear now is that the under-20 side that was crowned junior world champions in 2011 has become the most prolific and important age-grade side in New Zealand history - a point emphasised with the bench selections of Steven Luatua and Charles Piutau for the third test clash in New Plymouth.

Both men are expected to be capped and will become respectively the fourth and fifth of that 2011 under-20 side to graduate to full All Black honours.

There are probably at least three more of that team within touching distance of an All Black cap - and all three are likely to get there this year.


Dominic Bird would have been in the current squad but for incurring serious injury the day before the announcement. His damaged chest will be fixed in time for him to feature on the end-of-year tour.

Francis Saili is in the current squad and game time will surely come - if not in the Rugby Championship then at the end of the year, which is likely to be the case for Hurricanes halfback TJ Perenara.

Ben Tameifuna, Luke Whitelock and Brad Shields have been involved in All Black wider training squads and in the case of the first, he was in the squad proper this time last year.

"That was a pretty special side when you go through the names that were in it and the number of them who have made it into our team," said Steve Hansen.

"That team is very much a key spoke in the development wheel and you would like to think that all under-20 sides will start producing All Blacks.

"Maybe not as many as that team, but the time is right for them because we have got an All Black team that has been around for a long time and we are looking to introduce some youth and excitement and these guys - it is their time, their moment, I guess."

Who would know this far ahead, but that 2011 under-20 team could form as much as one third of the All Blacks' 2015 World Cup squad.

That would be an incredible return - a point that was emphasised on Wednesday morning when the current under-20 side were bundled out of the world championship by England in the semifinal.


Class of 2011
Ben Tameifuna: All Black squad (uncapped) 2012
Brodie Retallick: 14 caps
Dominic Bird: All Black wider training squad (2013)
Steven Luatua: Uncapped (but on bench)
Brad Shields: All Black wider training squad (2012-2013)
Luke Whitelock: All Black wider training squad (2012)
Sam Cane: 6 caps
TJ Perenara: All Black wider training squad (2013)
Beauden Barrett: 7 caps
Charles Piutau: Uncapped (but on bench)

Waisake Naholo: Blues, NZ Sevens
Michael Kainga, Solomon Sakalia, Gareth Anscombe: Chiefs
Codie Taylor: Crusaders
Lima Sopoaga: Highlanders