Brad Lewis: Five key talking points from All Blacks' Rugby World Cup squad

OPINION: All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen and fellow selectors Grant Fox and Ian Foster have thrown a few curveballs among their 31-man Rugby World Cup squad.

Super Rugby's most destructive midfielder missed the cut, as did one of the greatest props in All Blacks history.

The three wise men also opted for an unproven prospect over an established blindside, who made himself available for selection just 48 hours before the squad was announced. 

Owen Franks cast aside 

 

Twelve months ago, the 108-test veteran was an absolute lock for selection in this squad. 

But according to Steve Hansen, the game has changed and they want athletes wearing the No.1 and No.3 jerseys. 

The Perth test could very well be the last in a black jersey for Franks and that's a shame, given the demolition job the Wallabies did on the All Blacks that night. 

Owen Franks in action against Argentina
Owen Franks in action against Argentina. Photo credit: Getty

An absolute beast in the scrum, Franks' inability to make an impact with ball in hand has seen the inexperienced, but very talented Atu Moli, jump over one of the greatest prop forwards in test match history, let alone the All Blacks.

Luke Jacobson edges Liam Squire 

 

What a quick rise to fame it's been for the outstanding Chiefs loose forward. 

Jacobson was the breakout star of Super Rugby and a genuine bolter in this squad, given he's played only 20 minutes of test rugby

His elevation has come at the expense of Liam Squire, who hasn't been seen in a black jersey since the loss to Ireland last November. The Tasman hardman made himself unavailable for national selection earlier this year, citing lack of rugby and personal reasons for his absence. 

On Monday, news emerged that Squire was back in the mix, after indicating to the selectors that he was ready to play again. 

all blacks squad
Photo credit: Newshub.

But Hansen has been impressed by what Jacobson has done in camp during the Rugby Championship and rewarded him with the biggest opportunity of his rugby career.

Squire may have paid for his impending departure to club rugby in Japan, but Hansen indicated he would consider the blindside flanker, if the squad is hit by injury. 

Ngani Laumape the unlucky one 

 

The barnstorming Hurricanes second-five was a star turn in his side's semi-final Super Rugby run, but it hasn't been enough to deny Ryan Crotty, who has won selection, despite his lack of recent rugby.

Crotty's ability to switch between second-five and centre would have helped his cause, and Sonny Bill Williams shone against the Wallabies at Eden Park, cementing his spot as the only specialist No.12.

Ngani Laumape in action for the All Blacks
Ngani Laumape in action for the All Blacks. Photo credit: Photosport

Laumape's time will come, with Crotty heading overseason and Williams likely heading back to the NRL, but he can certainly feel aggrieved at his selection snub. 

Jordie Barrett the lucky one

 

If Damian McKenzie wasn't injured, it's hard to see a 31-man squad that Jordie Barret would have fitted into.

The Hurricanes utility was excellent in 30 minutes against the Wallabies at Eden Park, but that was arguably his best display of the season.  

The selectors could have opted for a backup 10 in Josh Ioane or even an extra loose forward-lock option like Jackson Hemopo, but Barrett's versatility swung the vote his way. 

He should get some game time in Japan, it's just a question of where. 

Most likely he will be used off the bench, but selector Grant Fox suggested he has been picked primarily as an outside back, so expect to see the talented back to line up on the wing when required. 

Worrying lack of No.10s 

 

Beauden Barrett's switch to fullback means Richie Mo'unga is the only out-and-out first-five selected in the squad. 

You can expect Barrett to slot into his favoured position against the likes of Namibia and Canada, but he will need rest at some point.

The options to fill the 10-jersey - if required - are interesting. 

Richie Mo'unga & Beauden Barrett
Richie Mo'unga & Beauden Barrett. Photo credit: Photosport

Grant Fox named TJ Perenara, Jordie Barrett and Crotty as potential covers, if they decided to rest both of Mo'unga and Barrett in the same match, while Ben Smith was another possibility.

Had Damian McKenzie been fit, he would have filled that void, but with Josh Ioane the only obvious candidate, the selectors were not comfortable with the thought of such an inexperienced player filling the boots of two of the best in the world.

Brad Lewis is a Newshub online sports producer.

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