Chris Rattue rates which players are the most important to the All Blacks' attempt to win a third straight World Cup in 2019.

Essential items - the players who will win New Zealand the 2019 World Cup if they get the right back-up.
1) Brodie Retallick - up there with the greats, like McCaw and Meads. Amazing range and engine, almost without fail. Absence made the heart grow a lot fonder. A lot fonder.
2) Beauden Barrett - good enough to be voted the world's best when not at his best
3) Sam Whitelock - with Retallick, forms the best locking combo of all time. They complement each other perfectly. Standby captain?
4) Aaron Smith - speed and efficiency at the heart of the All Black plans
5) Joe Moody - mobility to match the best. ABs top prop.
6) Ben Smith - Mr Perfect on his day, which is most days. Finds the extra gear.
7) Sam Cane - by default partly, but a muscular workhorse.
8) Rieko Ioane - better than 8th on this list, obviously, but the All Blacks do have other amazing options on the wing. They don't have any with most of the players above.

Are these blokes looking a bit ragged?
1) Kieran Read - a true great, but the battle scars are showing a bit on the 32-year-old captain after a long haul.
2) Dane Coles - smashing hooker dogged by injuries
3) Sonny Bill Williams - has magic moments, but still an ageing ex-league forward who is blooper-prone.

If only...
1) Owen Franks was a bit more mobile. Still a mighty cornerstone though, and remains ahead of Nepo Laulala.
2) Patrick Tuipulotu could play to his full potential. He would be a world beater
3) TJ Perenara could be more consistent as an impact halfback of the highest order.


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Players who could lose the cup...
1) Luke did he ever start a major test at No. 8?
2) Lima Sopoaga...too ponderous on 2017 form in a key position. Time for some Damian McKenzie energy and magic.

Have faith in...
1) Damian McKenzie - a stunning footballer and potential match-turner, yet people love to see his faults
2) Ngani Laumape - wish the selectors would have more faith...get him near the line and you have a try
3) Asafo Aumua - get out the fast track for the superstar hooker prospect, then hand it to Vaea Fifita.

Average to good if they have enough stars around them. Otherwise, we're in trouble.
1) Codie Taylor - doesn't have the starting x-factor required of an All Black hooker.
2) Kane Hames - a great scrummager but more of a battler around the park so far. Maybe more to come.
3) Matt Todd - good competitor though.

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The bolters.
1) Tawera Kerr-Barlow - the world won't collapse with a bit of rule bending when it is desperately needed.
2) Charlie Faumuina - unlikely as it is.
3) Jack Goodhue - as the starting centre.
4) Atu Moli - a young prop with attitude around the field. And if Pauliasi Manu can end up with a World Cup medal...
5) Jordie Barrett to fullback, Ben Smith to wing.

Keep wondering about...
1) Ryan Crotty - is he really of the highest test class?
2) Liam Squire - started great, but hasn't fully kicked on yet.
3) Scott Barrett - a bit small.
4) Ardie Savea - wild

1) Get Nehe Milner-Skudder fit - love watching this world beater.

Thanks for the great work, but forget about...
1) Jerome Kaino...obviously. Should be feted as one of the greatest World Cup forwards of all time.
2) Wyatt Crockett...the classic bench prop and top team man is on a slide at 34.

Still can't work out...
1) Nathan Harris - mystery man.
2) Waisake Naholo - will he be a star or in the stands?
3) Anton Lienert-Brown - where has the array of magic passes gone?