READER REPORT:

If I was Steve Hansen...

ZACH ALISON
Last updated 05:00 03/06/2014
All Blacks
TRIED AND TESTED: Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu are the best mid-field combination in the world - and their experience is nothing to scoff at.

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Working from the backs through to the front row, these are my All Blacks picks to face England in the upcoming tests.

15. Israel Dagg. He's the best fullback in the world, with best return kick in world.

14. Cory Jane. As per Dagg. Ben Smith unlucky.

13. Conrad Smith. Best centre since Frank Bunce.

12. Ma'a Nonu. Best 12 ever.

11. Julian Savea. Can't not have him in team.

10. Beauden Barrett. Can't believe he hasn't started in the 10 jersey yet. He stepped in for Dan Carter against South Africa last year and should have been number one from then on.

9. Aaron Smith. He's the best in world.

8. Keiran Read. It will be interesting to see how the best loose forward trio in many years operates with different players inside/outside them.

7. Richie McCaw. See Read's comments. I think Kaino brings out the best in McCaw, much like Jerry Collins used to.

6. Jerome Kaino. He's the best outright number 6 in the world and still has it.

5. Adam Whitelock. Cool as a cucumber.

4. Brodie Retallick. I'm a huge Luke Romano fan, but he's injured. Retallick and Whitelock are both very fit and mobile but need to try and stay tight to give the old loose forward trio space around fringes.

3. Charlie Faumuina. The Franks brothers aren't looking as flash as they once were with better props around. It will be good to see how Faumuina develops given more game time.

2. Keven Mealamu. He's the best All Black hooker since Sean Fitzpatrick and the line-outs are a lot better with current locks. Fitness isn't an issue as long as his calves hold up.

1. Tony Woodcock. He's the best in World.

RESERVES

16. Liam Coltman. His Southern-man style of play will be interesting to see against England. I woudl keep Dane Coles in the squad and play them off against each other - Coles did nothing worng last season and deserves a chance.

17. Wyatt Crockett.

18. Patrick Tuipulotu. He's an exciting player and is learning from Donnelly and the All Black front row and number 6 at the Blues. It would be interesting to see how he would be used in a national team. I don't think Jeremy Thrush will ever be world class. Luke Romano is injured so Tuipulotu should get a chance.

19. Liam Messam. I'm a huge Victor Vito fan but I think Messam is the best bench option as he covers all three at this level. Vito would be my number 8 if Read gets injured again.

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20. TJ Perenara. I think he's better than Tawera Kerr-Barlo, but hasn't been given much All Black gametime yet. It's  hard to give anyone gametime when Smith is an 80 minute player and All Black games are based around him at the moment.

21. Colin Slade. He's a good player and was unfortunately rushed in - needless if you ask me -  a few years back while trying to keep fit. It will be interesting to see how he goes back at test level with confidence.

22. Malakai Fekitoa. We need midfield cover on the bench and he is very exciting and very safe. It will be interesting to see how he goes. Like with 14, Ben Smith is very unlucky not to make my team.

My four players dropped from the 35-man squad are:

Nathan Harris, Jeremy Thrush, Dominic Bird (Steven Luatua in squad as a number 6/lock), Ben Franks

 

 


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