By Michael Pulman
Welcome back to my weekly “Best All Blacks Starting XV” column – right here on Rugby Rampage.
There was a lot of feedback to my squad last week, and it’s safe to say that a lot of people thought I was insane for picking Patrick Osborne as a winger!
Remember – this is by no means a 100% serious opinion (as I believe we are bombarded by far too much repeated garbage and bias in the mainstream media), it’s just a starting All Blacks XV based on how I’m feeling each week. While I try to be as realistic as possible in some areas, I like to go against what the typical prediction as much as possible and really give you readers something to think about.
So – here we go with the latest instalment of “Best All Blacks Starting XV” if the team was to be picked today.
Codie Taylor is one of the best hookers going round in New Zealand, it’s just a shame that he’s had Dane Coles in his way. Should Coles continue to suffer symptoms from concussion, Taylor is more than capable of starting for the All Blacks.
Luke Romano has paired nicely with Brodie Retallick in the past and has been relied upon in some big matches, namely the First Test against Wales at Eden Park last year. Romano is a better locking option than Scott Barrett, a fellow Crusader, because of his experience in these big matches. Amazingly, Romano is approaching just 30 caps for the All Blacks, many of which have been off the bench. You’d think he would have a lot more in him in years to come.
Liam Messam’s career in the black jersey may be over in the eyes of many, but not only could Messam still be a viable selection, he possesses the leadership skills that give him an outside chance of being All Black captain.
TJ Perenara has done enough to convince the masses that he is the best halfback in New Zealand right now. Perenara has only grown under his leadership role with the Hurricanes, his confidence is at an all-time high, and his work rate off the field is something to be admired too. Perenara’s combination with Beauden Barrett led the Hurricanes and the All Blacks to great heights in 2016, and his form has flowed on nicely into this season.
Ngani Laumape is a big fan favorite in 2017; and his current form for the Hurricanes suggests that he must, surely, be in the All Black selection conversation. Laumape has power, speed, and muscle – everything you could want for a midfielder. 11 tries and counting for the Hurricanes in 2017, Laumape is one of the better examples of a league player transitioning to union and making a good success of it, outside the great Sonny Bill Williams of course. What’s more – Laumape is only 24 years of age.
James Lowe, you could argue, was one of the unluckiest men in New Zealand Rugby last year and was victim of there being not enough spots on the All Blacks to warrant selection. You’d be hard pressed to deny Lowe’s deserving of a shot at the All Blacks, but unfortunately last year, it was a case of Steve Hansen choosing experience on the wing. Lowe is one of the best punters around and can find his way to the try line on frequent occasion. Perhaps it’s just his bulk, and therefore his power, that is potentially lacking.
IOANE & BARRETT UP FOR ALL BLACKS
Other key selections of note are Rieko Ioane at centre, and the seemingly unstoppable Jordie Barrett (who has the backing an interest of All Black coach Ian Foster by the way).
My All Blacks Starting XV (the week of 8th May, 2017)
What would be your STARTING XV if the team was named today? Comment on our Facebook!