Ben Smith Rugby World Cup 2019: What New Zealand vs Wales told us about the next four years

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Ben Smith, and perhaps Dane Coles and Sam Whitelock too. Aaron Smith may move on as well.” data-reactid=”26″ type=”text”>This game will likely mark the World Cup farewell to a number of key All Blacks, from captain Kieran Read to full-back Ben Smith, and perhaps Dane Coles and Sam Whitelock too. Aaron Smith may move on as well.

But this is largely a young New Zealand rugby squad. The midfield of Richie Mo’unga, Anton Lienert-Brown and Jack Goodhue are all still developing, while Sevu Reece, Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane and George Bridge are all yet to turn 25, and should form the back-three corps with the injured Damian McKenzie (24) for years to come.

Brodie Retallick and Beauden Barrett will likely both be key leaders in four years time, too, while Scott Barrett and Ardie Savea have the potential to be among the best forwards in the world come 2023, and neither will have reached 30. This is not so much the end of an era for the All Blacks but another stage of the continual renewal they do better than any other side. The departure of so many key leaders is a concern, but there is no reason New Zealand will not return just as good after the World Cup.

2. And there is more talent to come

Given the relatively small player base on which they can call, New Zealand’s ability to mould and cultivate talent is incredible. There is plenty more to come into this side in the next cycle.

Fringe stars like back-row Luke Jacobson (absent from the World Cup due to injury) and versatile back Braydon Ennor have already been selected in an All Blacks squad this year, while the U20 Championship winning side of 2017 – who will theoretically be right in their primes come the 2023 World Cup – is one of the great age-grade sides of all-time, thrashing a strong England side 64-17 in the final.

Look out for free-running hooker Asafo Aumua, silky smooth full-back Will Jordan and developing second row Isaia Walker-Leawere as just three from that squad that might be making their presence known internationally sooner rather than later.

3. Wales have a young core around which to build

Wales will need to regenerate, too, but a number of their younger players have shown their talent in this World Cup, and there are signs that a young core is being developed to build around.

Josh Adams has become one of the better finishers in world rugby, Aaron Wainwright has emerged as a real star on the blindside, and Adam Beard has quietly got through a ton of work in a very effective manner.

The domestic structure in Wales seems to be getting stronger, too, by the looks of things, which should aid depth in the country, and the decision to prevent those playing overseas being picked should keep talent in Wales. That can only help ne

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