Newshub rugby editor Ross Karl has warned Liam Squire's decision to turn down an All Blacks jersey may backfire on him, opening the door for rivals to push their Rugby World Cup claims.
The blindside flanker was missing from the 39-man squad named for the upcoming Rugby Championship campaign, after telling coach Steve Hansen he needed time to overcome fitness concerns.
Squire missed most of the Highlanders' Super Rugby season with a knee injury, but he showed solid form on his return and was expected to wear the number six jersey during the international itinerary.
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"Sounds like there are some personal issues going on there," Karl told The AM Show. "It's a long run of injuries that he's had, but he's played pretty well since he's come back.
"It's the first time since Brad Thorn that someone has turned down Steve Hansen. It's a big call from him - a pretty gutsy call from him."
The squad features plenty of other blindside options, including Chiefs newcomer Luke Jacobson.
"You give Luke Jacobson a chance in this All Black jersey… this guy is the second coming of Jerome Kaino," said Karl. "He tackles hard, he runs hard, he's a good player."
Watch the full video for Ross Karl's take on other selections (and omissions), including Luke Whitelock, Brad Weber, George Bridge and Josh Ioane.
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