Brodie Retallick Rugby World Cup: All Blacks tread the fine line between being seasoned and past it

Brodie Retallick These modules are huge!!

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Thirteen-test All Blacks prop Karl Tu’inukuafe concedes he might not make the cut for the Rugby World Cup.

OPINION:You assume it’ll be New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey who’s rolled out on Wednesday to announce the 31 men who’ll go to Japan for the Rugby World Cup, but I fell 10 players short.

With the best will in the world, there really are only 21 blokes who deserve to be All Blacks this year. Everyone else is either there on past deeds or promise.

Starting at the back

So much for two fullbacks in the back-three; this time around we’re about to have none.

Brodie Retallick Ben Smith prefers to play fullback, but Steve Hansen has been sold on having him on the wing, though things haven't turned out well there lately.

WILL RUSSELL/GETTY IMAGES

Ben Smith prefers to play fullback, but Steve Hansen has been sold on having him on the wing, though things haven’t turned out well there lately.

Cory Jane, Israel Dagg or Ben Smith never liked playing wing. But All Blacks coach Steve Hansen set his stall on the ploy, right up until Smith started getting so badly exposed this season.

READ MORE:
* Steve Hansen’s acid test selection
* Retallick too good to ignore
* Why ABs are RWC favourites
* Picking the ABs outside backs
* Ex-All Black’s locking solution
* England serve ominous notice

* Squire wants to play at RWC

Looking at it now, Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece and George Bridge – none of whom are specialist fullbacks – are going to go to Japan and then it’s a lolly scramble.

I still like David Havili but assume Smith, Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett will end up on Impey’s list.

Midfield

No-one’s going to argue about Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown.

We all know Sonny Bill Williams will get picked, despite concerns over his durability and lack of rugby. The same questions hang over Ryan Crotty, but it seems safe to assume he’s going too.

Ngani Laumape’s chances might depend on who’s culled elsewhere.

Brodie Retallick With a congested midfield, Ngani Laumape's chances of making it to Japan could rest on what the selectors decide in other positions.

HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

With a conges

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