Topic: Rugby

Buck Shelford's thoughts on the All Blacks' RWC squad

By Raniera Harrison

There were always going to be winners and losers in the All Black squad with five players of Māori descent missing the cut to 31.  That being said, there's still a fair Māori force charged to defend the William Webb Ellis Cup.  Te Kāea sat down with rugby legend Wayne Shelford to dissect the All Black squad today.

The lucky ones vested the responsibility of the black jersey.  But what about those who missed out?

Wayne Shelford says, "Now who's the most unluckiest, well you'd turn around and say well the 10 guys who didn't get picked, because there are 10 guys in front of them."

The greatest All Black stories perhaps coming from Nehe Milner-Skudder's rise, and Waisake Naholo's speedy recovery from a broken tibia only six months ago.  Through their inclusion, Ngāti Kahungunu descendant Israel Dagg has been left out.

Shelford says, "Nehe and Naholo really haven't been seen by the world so they've got different tricks up their sleeves that many players around the world wouldn't know."

Veteran winger Cory Jane, unlucky missing out on selection.  The 32-year-old hinting at hanging up the boots after the All Blacks coach's announcement last night.

Being in the back three, chances are you're going to lose some of your speed, and these young guys are just chaffing at the bit.

With the calibre of players that missed out, the depth of New Zealand Rugby is truly seen.  All of these players not included in the Rugby World Cup 31 named last night.

Shelford says, "17 young boys on this tour, 17 that never went to the last Rugby World Cup, the amount of test matches on this side would be phenomenal."

The squad boasts 1,484 caps, with only nine of the 31 having played less then 25 tests.

"We can't defend it, we've got to win it.  It's been said by Richie and a few of the other players, it's not about defending it, it's about winning it," says Shelford.

However, Shelford says the All Blacks could win the William Webb Ellis Cup back-to-back.

"Irrespective of people's chats on who they would have had and this guy there, man, we've just got to get behind them and support them big time," adds Shelford.

Just wait to see the beautiful blending of the All Black elements, whether we remain at the top of the world.

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