All Blacks Rugby World Cup Squad Selection Series – First Five Eighth

Going into 2015, the All Blacks had an arsenal of good first five eighths to take to the Rugby World Cup, but we must remember the curse which has seen first five eighths ruled out of the last two Rugby World Cup tournaments, leaving such amazing depth pulling Stephen the Beaver Donald off a white-baiting trip into a Rugby World Cup final.

Assuming selectors go for three first five eighths, who would you choose?

Contenders

Dan Carter has shown us with his form towards the end of Super Rugby 2015 that he still has the skills in the Number 10 jersey, while Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade are ideal benchwarmers with their electrifying pace and ability to cover first five eighth, fullback and even wing if needed.  Carter himself has been a victim of his versatility, spending a large part of the season in the Crusaders midfield. This versatility gives them the edge over new kid on the block Lima Sopoaga who is in the current All Blacks training squad. The injured Aaron Cruden is also an outside chance, but has a serious knee injury. He can only play at first five eighth too, which isn’t ideal in a tournament with limited squad numbers.

There are other contenders too, with the experienced and versatile James Marshall and Tom Taylor, and young guns like Ihaia West, Damian McKenzie, Marty McKenzie and Otere Black, but they are not likely to be required in 2015, but could play a part in future seasons. Given the All Blacks first five eighth curse, it is not outside the realms of possibility that one of these guys is needed if injuries strike. Continue reading All Blacks Rugby World Cup Squad Selection Series – First Five Eighth

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All Blacks Squad 2015 – Who Will Make The Cut?

The first All Blacks squad of the season will be named on Sunday with an enlarged squad of 41 players named to cover for a test against Manu Samoa in Apia and a condensed Rugby Championship Campaign. With such a large squad being named, there must be some space for a bolter. Who will make this All Blacks squad?

It is difficult to know if selectors will show any loyalty to players who will be leaving after the Rugby World Cup.

Here is my stab in the dark at an All Blacks squad of 41 players. There have to be new faces given the need to blood some new players in a test match environment in an attempt to build some depth before next season. If two New Zealand teams make the Super Rugby final then they may require even more players. The chances are that the Hurricanes will make the Super Rugby final, meaning that they need enough depth in positions that Hurricanes players are strong, like midfield, front row and lock.

Some of the old hands like Richie McCaw and Dan Carter have come into some form towards the end of Super Rugby, just when they were on the verge of not making the All Blacks squad.

My All Blacks squad of 41 players – do you agree? Who would you pick? Continue reading All Blacks Squad 2015 – Who Will Make The Cut?

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Super 15 Rugby Round Qualifiers Preview and Fantasy Rugby Guide

For Super Rugby fans, it is make or break time with only one regular season round left. Now is the time to make a move in that tipping conference and that is where we can help.

It seems like only yesterday that Super 15 Rugby Round 1 2015 left a lot of people red faced with most tipsters picking between two and three winners out of seven games.  Things have got more predictable since then with Round 11 and 15 featuring no upsets, just when some people desperate to make up points got sick of losing out when picking the favourites and went for the upsets!

The average winning margin in Super Rugby Round 18 was approximately 17.3 points, meaning that the overall average is now 12.5 points. Expect margins to drop in most games during the qualifiers, although there is usually one blowout.

Last round only one out of seven teams that lost matches did so by seven points or less, meaning that in under half of games (50 out of 120) the winning margin has been between 1 and 7 points.

Over 50 percent of games have been won by the home team in 2015 with 68 home wins from 120 games (57 percent). The overall statistic of 71 percent of home wins set in 2014 will not be matched. It is hard to know if it is simply because of the draw or if this trend looks set to continue. Although less home referees may also have something to do with this Continue reading Super 15 Rugby Round Qualifiers Preview and Fantasy Rugby Guide

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