The All Blacks name their squad for the Rugby World Cup tomorrow and Liam Squire has made himself available again after pulling his name out of Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup selection. Here’s seven reasons why the All Blacks must pick Squire for the Rugby World Cup.
1 – Steve Hansen has buried all his other blindside options
Vaea Fifita, Shannon Frizell, Dalton Papalii, Jackson Hemopo and Luke Jacobson have all had a recent stabs at the number six black jersey and judging by the aftermath from those attempts, they haven’t impressed Hansen enough to keep their place. The fact Hansen has opted to use his best players out of position in the back row rather these players in their best position, certainly doesn’t create confidence in these players. Hansen has been pretty quick to view his options and cast them to the wayside.
2 – The All Blacks have all 7s and no 6 cover or starter
Sam Cane, Ardie Savea and Matt Todd all sit in the All Blacks most recent 23. Yet not one specialist blindside was near the squad. Savea offers too much in impact off the bench to start big games and we have seen with playing two openside’s, the All Blacks lack that bit of aggression. If the All Blacks want to realistically defend their title, they need the versatility of an out and out six than can bring a different element to a specialist seven.
3 – The back row and pack lacks a powerful enforcer
A follow on from the last point. Without that power player at six or eight, the pack lacks “muscle”. Read’s roll offer more in other areas which is why so much pressure falls on the six to cover that bully roll fully. It flows on for the whole pack, when defending and attacking the breakdown, set piece and even open play, that style will command the focus of defenders to allow more space for others. Plenty of benefits.
4 – He is now match ready and in form
Squire has already admitted by withdrawing from The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup that his season, or lack of, in Super Rugby was below par. Missing most of the season through injury and personal reasons he only played three times for the Highlanders. Since then he has recently returned for the Tasman Makos in the Mitre 10 Cup and has been in impressive form as the Makos have destroyed everyone against them so far in the opened three rounds with Squire leading from the front with some commanding displays.
5 – Hansen and Squire’s conversation to reach an “understanding”
When Hansen and Squire chatted prior to The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup, only two people really know what that conversation was all about. But for Hansen to say the door is still open for Squire and the ball is in his court for the Rugby World Cup, gives the impression he still wants Squire in his squad. Hansen is a very loyal coach who knows who he wants in his side. Based on Hansen’s comments around this matter, Squire looks like he is the master of his own destiny. Does he want to go to Japan? You can bet your sock he does! I’d imagine they agreed on gametime and desire to want to play the game. That, Squire has done.
6 – Cover in the second row
With the state of the second row currently, it wouldn’t hurt to have another option. We know Retallick will go to Japan despite his injury, knowing he will miss games. That leaves a problem area before they even kick a ball. Having another guy who can cover that second row, especially against the Tier Two sides, would be important to have.
7 – He’s the closest thing to that Jerome Kaino roll New Zealand has
Any All Blacks fan will remember the style of game Kaino offered the Black jersey, which is what its lacking now. Plenty of options have tried to fill that void, but it’s a rare position that NZ rugby has failed to roll a replacement off the conveyor belt of talent. Is the next best thing, good enough?
Do you think Liam Squire will make the All Blacks 31 man squad for the Rugby World Cup? If not who takes that spot? Lets me know in the comments section! Thanks for joining me Behind The Posts!