How the All Blacks could look in 2020

2019-02-12 23:53:31

OPINION: Another day, another All Black departs.

The news that Liam Squire is off to Japan is hardly surprising in itself but it puts another dent in the All Blacks' post-2019 planning.

No Kieran Read, no Ben Smith, no Beauden Barrett, no Owen Franks, no Squire and possibly no Brodie Retallick, Sonny Bill Williams or Aaron Smith.

It's a familiar post-World Cup test of the All Blacks' ability to regenerate and guarantees next year's side has a markedly different look.

Lock and the back row are two areas where there will be significant change.

The No 8 position is wide open, particularly with Squire - whom Buck Shelford rates as an No 8 - out of the picture..

Akira Ioane's size and pace lend themselves so perfectly to the position that it's impossible not to hope that he fulfils his potential by working on the parts of the game he doesn't enjoy so much.

However, there is still an element of doubt about Ioane, which could allow the likes of the Chiefs' Taleni Seu to come through.

Seu has all the ingredients - tall, athletic, a good worker - and now he just needs a bit of luck with injuries. A good Super Rugby season for him this year could really open doors for him in 2020.

In Squire's position of No 6 it is hard to look beyond a three-way contest between Jackson Hemopo, Shannon Frizell and Vaea Fifita.

Slightly surprisingly, it has been Hemopo who has looked to the manor born in his early test career.

The others have had their moments but Hemopo's ability to grind away in the rough stuff has caught the eye in the black jersey.

At lock there is a chance that an uncapped player can really push on this year and announce themselves as a likely replacement for Retallick, should the lock decide to head to Japan for the calendar year.

By rights there shouldn't be a space at all - Patrick Tuipulotu should step up.

However, Tuipulotu has not quite put it all together for the Blues or All Blacks on a consistent basis and should he miss selection for the Rugby World Cup squad he would be an obvious target for overseas clubs, particularly in France where his size would be treasured.

That leaves us gazing over the next generation of locks on putting a bet on one of them.

​Quinten Strange has been excellent for the Crusaders, the Highlanders' Pari Pari Parkinson looks built for test rugby and those in the Waikato would point you towards Chiefs youngster Laghlan McWhannell.

Judging when a lock hits maturity is not an exact science - Super Rugby will ultimately be the judge.

In the back line Barrett's likely departure should pave the way for Richie Mo'unga, while the investment in Jordie Barrett could pay off big time when Ben Smith has departed.

This would confine Damian McKenzie to the supersub role at a time when the style of test rugby is such that a bigger body in the back three looks increasingly important.

The midfield is already stacked with option and it's a matter of taking your pick.

Could No 12 end up being Anton Lienert-Brown's best position? There is certainly something appealing about a potential Lienert-Brown-Jack Goodhue combination.

It would have size, footwork and a nice mix of short and long passing games.

There are some unknowns at play.

Will Aaron Smith be available or will he join those heading to fresh pastures? Will Sam Cane make a comeback from his neck injury?

Both would obviously feature if they are available but that is no certainty.

In fact, uncertainty is the name of the game for the All Blacks in 2020. Change, for better or worse, is coming.

Potential All Blacks team in 2020.

1. Joe Moody

2. Codie Taylor

3. Nepo Laulala

4. Scott Barrett

5. Sam Whitelock (c)

6. Jackson Hemopo

7. Ardie Savea

8. Akira Ioane

​9. TJ Perenara

10. Richie Mo'unga

11. Rieko Ioane

12. Anton Lienert-Brown

13. Jack Goodhue

14. George Bridge

15. Jordie Barrett

Replacements: Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Pari Pari Parkinson, Dalton Papali'i, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Damian McKenzie, Ngani Laumape

Back to the top ^

Related Articles (30)