Rugby World Cup 2019: Former All Black Jeff Wilson backs Reece, Bridge selections for Bledisloe rematch

Wings Sevu Reece and George Bridge have a golden opportunity to book their seats to the Rugby World Cup squad, according to All Blacks great Jeff Wilson 

The Crusaders duo have replaced out-of-form front-liners Ben Smith and Rieko Ioane for the Bledisloe Cup clash at Eden Park, as New Zealand try to reverse last week's 47-26 thrashing by Australia in Perth.

Reece will play his second test, after debuting against Argentina last month, while Bridge will start for the first time, after coming off the bench in three previous tests. 

Rugby World Cup 2019: Former All Black Jeff Wilson backs Reece, Bridge selections for Bledisloe rematch

While replacing two of New Zealand's more experienced outside backs is a bold call, Wilson, told Trackside Radio he was excited to see what the pair could do under pressure. 

"I'm sure the selectors would have liked to have gone in with a different situation," said the veteran of 60 tests, mostly on the wing. 

"But you've got to remember that they're still trying to lock down their 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.

"If you had not played Sevu Reece and George Bridge, you won't know anything more about them.

"Beauden Barrett going to fullback opened up a number of selection opportunities in their World Cup team.

"I think they were always looking at giving someone an opportunity in this game and it looks as though it's come at the expense of guys with experience." 

Coach Steve Hansen will name his 31-man World Cup squad on August 28, so this test is his last chance to assess those fringe selections. 

"They wanted to see these guys play, now they get the opportunity to do that and we're not just talking about any test match," Wilson added. "We're talking about the Bledisloe Cup being on the line. 

"What they've gone for is a fresh approach, with guys who are going to bring something a little different. 

"Sevu Reece is very different to Ben Smith and George Bridge is very different to Reiko Ioane. In fact, they are polar opposites to each other in terms of selection.

"So now, going into this game, they've got something that maybe the opposition doesn't know about."

A loss or draw would see the All Blacks lose the Bledisloe Cup, which they've held since 2003, but a win would see them retain the trans-Tasman trophy for at least another 12 months.


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