All Blacks to dominate over England
Did the All Black selectors get it right?
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen must have two goals for the three-test rugby series against England.
They are to win all three games and to develop and solidify combinations throughout the team by giving everyone in the 31-man squad a feel of the All Blacks jersey.
With players like TJ Perenara, Malakai Fekitoa and Patrick Tuipulotu in the mix, it will be nice to see them earn their first cap.
It will be a tough battle against England.
However, I feel that our second-string players can front up and play games in the starting XV comfortably.
By game three I would like to see a full-strength starting XV from the different combinations in games one and two.
For game one I would select a front row of Tony Woodcock, Dane Coles and Charlie Faumuina.
It will be good to see Woodcock hit the next gear, as he usually does in the All Blacks jersey.
It would also help give Coles and Faumuina experience by starting in the first test.
With the experience of Keven Mealamu on the bench and with impact players like Ben Franks and Wyatt Crockett, it will be a staunch front row.
I would select a dominant second row, with Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock locking together and Tuipulotu on the bench and receiving his first cap during this game.
In the back row, I would have Richie McCaw at No 7. However, if Sam Cane wasn't injured he would deserve a start.
I would also start Liam Messam.
The backs will consist of first and second-string players.
For halfback, I would start Tawera Kerr-Barlow as he deserves a start, passing to his Chiefs team-mate, Aaron Cruden, and resting Beauden Barrett for game two.
In the midfield, I would rest Ma'a Nonu and have a Ryan Crotty-Conrad Smith combination.
The outside backs will be strong with Julian Savea, Cory Jane and Ben Smith.
Smith deserves to start in his preferred position of fullback, and game one will be his opportunity to do this.
The bench will consist of Aaron Smith, Colin Slade and Israel Dagg.
For game two, there will be a chance to bring in experienced players and take the team to another level.
I would give a few players the opportunity to start in the black jersey and prove their worth.
The front row will consist of Owen Franks, Mealamu and Ben Franks. This will give Ben Franks time to shine in the starting lineup.
This team will include Woodcock and Faumuina on the bench.
In the second row, I would keep Retallick and Whitelock, with Dominic Bird getting a chance from the bench.
In the back row, I would select a combination of Jerome Kaino, McCaw and Victor Vito. This will allow Vito to prove whether the All Blacks should pick him for game three or not.
On the bench will be Messam, who can cover the back row.
The backs will consist of Aaron Smith and Barrett in the halves, with Cruden and Perenara on the bench. This will give Barrett the opportunity to showcase his skills and orchestrate the backline, while Perenara will receive his first cap passing to Hurricanes team-mate Barrett.
The midfield will see the return of our best midfield combination of Nonu and Conrad Smith, with Fekitoa on the bench.
This will be a powerful midfield, with Nonu and Fekitoa closing the game.
The outside backs will be Savea, Jane and Dagg. This will establish who is the preferred fullback and will give Ben Smith a break.
Game three will be a phenomenal team consisting of the best of our 31-man All Blacks squad.
My top team:
2. Dane Coles.
3. Owen Franks.
5. Sam Whitelock.
6. Jerome Kaino.
7. Richie McCaw (c).
8. Kieran Read.
9. Aaron Smith.
10. Aaron Cruden.
11. Julian Savea.
12. Ma'a Nonu.
13. Conrad Smith.
14. Ben Smith.
15. Israel Dagg.
16. Ben Franks.
17. Keven Mealamu.
18. Charlie Faumuina.
19. Patrick Tuipulotu.
20. Liam Messam.
21. TJ Perenara.
22. Beauden Barrett.
23. Cory Jane.
I predict there will be a clean sweep to the All Blacks, with the player of the series being Kaino.
The All Blacks will gain the perfect buildup to the Rugby Championship, and with the return of Daniel Carter on the horizon, the chance of back-to-back World Cup titles.
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