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The All Blacks’ 31-man squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
ANALYSIS: From the changing-sheds of Eden Park the All Blacks squad of 31 to take their shot at World Cup history in Japan next month was unveiled.
As is the way with these things there were dreams made and hopes shattered as the national selectors made the hard calls associated with arriving at a group of this number to tick off a potential seven matches in six weeks in the quest for the Webb Ellis Cup. Or, to put it less grandiosely, there were some notable omissions and one or two interesting inclusions among a largely predictable group.
Of course, that was always going to be the case as Steve Hansen and fellow selectors Ian Foster and Grant Fox trimmed their squad of 34 down to the 31 mandated by World Rugby for the global event. It’s just the way it is when it comes to the RWC. Shortcuts have to be taken. Needs must.
Here then are the five main takeaways from the squad announcement, and what you really need to know about Hansen’s chosen 31 for Mission Threepeat.
* Hansen piles on the pressure
* Classy Hansen at his best
* ABs first as tough calls made
* RWC match schedule and pools
* How to watch the Rugby World Cup
Was Owen Franks really a shock omission? And Ngani Laumape, for that matter?
Franks first: Absolutely not. And, while we’re at it, Atu Moli hasn’t been preferred ahead of him.
It’s an easy headline to highlight the omission of a 108-test, dual World Cup-winner who has dominated his position for so long as a bombshell axing. Certainly it was a notable decision to leave out a player of Franks’ experience. “One of the greats,” conceded Hansen.
But the truth is his form has been on the wane for some time and in the last test outing – which happened to be the best All Blacks performance in a year – he did not even make the cut.
Between the Posts looks at why Owen Franks won’t be on the plane to Japan, and finds holes to poke in Steve Hansen’s strong team.
Hansen has made it clear all year mobility is the name of the modern game with props and Franks comes up well short in thi
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