There is room for four new faces in my All Blacks tour squad

Jack Goodhue, pictured showing his athleticism for Northland, deserves a spot on the end-of-year tour.
HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

Jack Goodhue, pictured showing his athleticism for Northland, deserves a spot on the end-of-year tour.

OPINION: The All Blacks were outstanding in Cape Town.

Had I been in the shoes of an Eddie Jones, for example, last weekend would have made me feel slightly uncomfortable for the first time in 2017. 

The nature of the All Blacks' win against the Springboks, with so many experienced names missing, would have challenged my assumptions about the 2019 World Cup. 

North Harbour wing Matt Duffie scores a superb try against Waikato.
HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

North Harbour wing Matt Duffie scores a superb try against Waikato.

The All Blacks are not in a slow decline. Whoever wants to win the tournament in 2019 will have to keep improving quickly to reach New Zealand.

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New players have been introduced and they have performed. Damian McKenzie's try was the best illustration of that, running off that clever little offload from David Havili.

Canterbury No 10 Richie Mo'unga makes a break against Southland.
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Canterbury No 10 Richie Mo'unga makes a break against Southland.

But there is still room for more squad development on the end-of-year tour, with three or four uncapped players a reasonable chance due to injuries and the 37-man squad.

Let's start in the outside backs, where injuries and Ben Smith's period away from rugby have opened up a few doors, and where McKenzie seems best suited, creating the need for a third No 10.

Matt Duffie is a player of interest. His skills look well suited to cover what the All Blacks are losing without Smith, Israel Dagg and Milner-Skudder. Duffie is brave in the air, mature, can create and can finish.

Waikato prop Atu Moli, pictured here playing for the Chiefs, is a brilliant ball carrier.
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Waikato prop Atu Moli, pictured here playing for the Chiefs, is a brilliant ball carrier.

The North Harbour man deserves a look.

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Seta Tamanivalu adds some balance with his size and pace. As he showed in the Super Rugby final the big man can shift and he's ahead of Julian Savea on form.

Selecting McKenzie as a fullback/wing means Richie Mo'unga can fill the third No 10 berth. Taranaki prospect Stephen Perofeta is rising quickly but Mo'unga has been good for two years and has won a Super Rugby title. It is not too early for him to tour.

In the midfield Jack Goodhue claims the fifth spot. I remain a huge Charlie Ngatai fan but he needs a pre-season and Goodhue has shown his class with Northland.

The last spot is the trickiest. A minimum of five props must travel and the choice is between Wellington's Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen and Waikato's Atu Moli. Here the question I ask is which of these two can get to where the All Blacks want them to in the shortest period of time.

Toomaga-Allen has a head start because of his experience and is probably the more likely option but I like Moli. His hands are superb and his ball-carrying is damaging. With some time in the Mike Cron school of scrummaging his potential is huge.

There is no Asafo Aumua. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has already signalled there will be no apprentice scheme. This may be because the brilliant Aumua has already gone beyond that stage and is seen as the third best hooker in his own right, or the All Blacks feel a summer at home is the best option.

The other factor here is Nathan Harris. Injuries have been cruel to him but he still has so many positives.

My All Blacks squad for end-of-year tour (uncapped players in bold)

Hookers
Dane Coles (Wellington)
Codie Taylor (Canterbury)
Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty)

Props
Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury)
Kane Hames (Tasman)
Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau)
Ofa Tu'ungafasi (Auckland)
Atu Moli (Waikato)

Locks
Brodie Retallick (Hawke's Bay)
Sam Whitelock (Canterbury)
Scott Barrett (Taranaki)
Luke Romano (Canterbury)
Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland)

Loose forwards
Kieran Read (Counties Manukau) - captain
Liam Squire (Tasman)
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty)
Ardie Savea (Wellington)
Jerome Kaino (Auckland)
Matt Todd (Canterbury)
Vaea Fifita (Wellington)

Backs (17)

Halfbacks
Aaron Smith (Manawatu)
TJ Perenara (Wellington)
Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Waikato)

No 10s
Beauden Barrett (Taranaki)
Lima Sopoaga (Southland)
Richie Mo'unga (Canterbury)

Midfielders
Ryan Crotty (Canterbury)
Sonny Bill Williams (Counties Manukau)
Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato)
​Ngani Laumape (Manawatu)
Jack Goodhue (Northland)

Outside backs
Damian McKenzie (Waikato)
Rieko Ioane (Auckland)
Waisake Naholo (Taranaki)
David Havili (Tasman)
Seta Tamanivalu (Taranaki)
Matt Duffie (North Harbour)

 - Stuff

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