Ben Smith Rugby’s burning questions: Steve Hansen’s All Blacks squad and the big final

Ben Smith These items are unbelievable!!

Ben Smith Steve Hansen's All Blacks squad contains some bold selections.

PHIL WALTER/GETTY IMAGES

Steve Hansen’s All Blacks squad contains some bold selections.

With Steve Hansen unveiling his first All Blacks squad of World Cup year and Super Rugby down to the final pair there has been plenty to chew over this week.

Stuff’s rugby scribes take on the hot topics of the week:

What’s your chief takeaway from the All Blacks squad?

Ben Smith David Havili (L) is one of the unluckiest players to be omitted from the All Blacks.

Marty Melville

David Havili (L) is one of the unluckiest players to be omitted from the All Blacks.

Marc Hinton: That form and upside has been rewarded and past reputations not so much. I love the boldness of this squad. The temptation in RWC year is to go with the tried and trusted. But not for these guys. That back three is awash with youth, and explosiveness, and there is an intriguing mix of loose forwards. The ABs took a step backwards last year. This is their response.

Paul Cully: Steve Hansen has returned to form as a brilliant selector. This time last year Damian McKenzie was regarded as a better No 10 than Richie Mo’unga but the All Blacks coach clearly has enough sense to make his big mistake the year before a Rugby World Cup. This All Blacks squad has a bit of everything – experience, youth and form – and unless I’m very much mistaken it looks like Ben Smith is primarily a fullback again. It’s an excellent squad. 

Liam Hyslop: That there’s still plenty of depth in New Zealand rugby. You look at the omitted names and they would make up a pretty handy XV in world rugby. 

Aaron Goile: That it was nice to see some new, exciting blood, and that selectors are prepared to trust the form they are seeing in Super Rugby. That there must be big question marks over how Liam Squire is going to find the required match fitness to be considered for the World Cup. And that Jordie Barrett was interestingly listed as a ‘utility back’, not an ‘outside back’.

Unluckiest player to miss and luckiest to sneak in?

Ben Smith Akira Ioane has been given a blunt message to get better from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

MICHAEL BRADLEY/GETTY IMAGES

Akira Ioane has been given a blunt message to get better from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

Hinton: David Havili and Tyrel Lomax were my notable omissions on form. But you can see why they’ve missed. Lomax is still figuring out how to use his size and Havili is unlucky to have Ben Smith and Jordie Barrett in his position. Lucky? Shannon Frizell sneaks in while not able to make the Highlanders’ starting loose trio and Asafo Aumua gets another look more on potential than productivity.

Cully: Two sides of the same coin. David Havili is unlucky, Jordie Barrett is a tad fo

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