The Cup 19 podcast: Sevu Reece, George Bridge emerge as All Blacks bolters

In 2011, Israel Dagg supplanted veteran fullback Mils Muliaina - just two caps away from his 100th test - from the All Blacks starting XV in a victorious World Cup campaign.

Four years later, Nehe Milner-Skudder capped a stellar Super Rugby campaign for the Hurricanes to emerge as the breakout performer of the title defence.

Coach Steve Hansen took a risk on Rieko Ioane against the British & Irish Lions two years ago.  

With their starring roles in last week's Bledisloe Cup battering at Eden Park, Crusaders wings Sevu Reece and George Bridge seem to have booked their spots to Japan, when the World Cup squad is named on Wednesday.

And Newshub rugby reporter John Day insists Reece must now have his nose ahead of All Blacks stalwart Ben Smith on the right wing.  

"We've seen this before with Steve Hansen and Rieko Ioane in the Lions series," Day told The Cup 19 podcast. "Everyone was saying, 'What are you doing? What are you up to?'

"Rieko killed it back then and now it's someone in Rieko's place."

The Blues flyer has struggled for form in recent weeks, but Day maintains Ioane will retain his frontline status at the World Cup, despite Bridge's presence.

"We heard from Stu Wilson earlier in the week - we had a chat to him in the newsroom - and he said Ioane is still our best winger. Stu Wilson scored 50 tries and knows what he's talking about, when it comes to an All Blacks winger.

"But the No.14 jersey is probably wide open and Sevu Reece may have done enough."

Day says Smith hasn't really recovered from a mid-season hamstring injury, returned to the Highlanders too early and didn't taken his chances with the national team though the Rugby Championship. 

"In an All Blacks 23, I still see him playing a role, because he can play wing, he can play fullback and we've seen him play centre on an end-of-year tour. He'd be a damn good reserve."

Day and podcast host Ollie Ritche discuss other looming selections, as well as the form teams in Mitre 10 Cup competition so far. Listen to the full episode here.


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