The forwards were reasonably uncomplicated to pick. The backs, as you would expect, are slightly more interesting.
Remember, this is what the selectors are likely to go with.
There are three players unlucky to miss out. The rise and rise of Lima Sopoaga has come at Slade’s expense. Sopoaga is clearly the second best starting number 10 in the country, and with Carter’s injury record over the last few years you need that person in the squad. Barrett will be a little lucky to be chosen; he has not been the same since coming back from injury towards the end of the Super Rugby season. But his record off the bench for the All Blacks should see him on the plane.
Ryan Crotty, who has hardly had the chance to prove himself this season, is also a bit stiff. Jason O’Halloran makes some really good points about the lack of form of Sonny Bill Williams since his latest return from league. If you are to accept what O’Halloran has said, then there is no way that Crotty should not be there. However, we know it will be Williams.
Charles Piutau is another victim of politics. For starters, taking four players to cover three positions in a 31 man squad is a bit of a squeeze. With Milner-Skudder’s arrival it come down to a three way race for that final slot between Piutau, Dagg and Jane. They have been very loyal to Dagg over the last couple of years, they like his big boot and, anyway, Piutau has signed for Munster.