Rugby: Jeff Wilson weighs in on who should replace injured Sevu Reece in All Blacks' World Cup XV

Former All Black Jeff Wilson believes Blues breakout star Mark Telea is an obvious selection in New Zealand's first XV for the World Cup, but who occupies the other is massively up for debate.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has confirmed All Blacks wing Sevu Reece will miss the rest of 2023 - including the Rugby World Cup in France - with a knee injury.

Reece, 26, sustained the injury in his side's win over the Blues at Auckland earlier this month and consequently missed last week's win over the Brumbies at Christchurch.

"This season, he's been in outstanding form," Wilson said of Reece. "I thought he started this season really strongly... I thought he finished last year really, really well.

"This is a guy who's started a number of key test matches for the All Blacks. He understands the pressure and the environment, so it's bitterly disappointing for the All Blacks."

Wilson says Telea's been impressive for the Blues so far this season and deserves his own spot.

"I've already got him in, there's no doubt about him. I think he's an absolute given," he told Newshub.

Telea's numbers back it up - 583 metres carried, 31 defenders beaten, eight clean breaks and four tries - but Wilson concedes there isn't an obvious solution for who partners Telea.

"What they're looking for is not necessarily a replacement, but someone who can do a similar job, without the benefit or experience," he notes. 

"For me, what it tells us is whether or not Super Rugby form... and a young player can put up their hand and say, 'you know what, I'm not going to be experienced like the player you've just lost, but I'll bring energy'. 

"'You'll have confidence in me on both sides of the ball'. It's not just the attacking we need to be aware of."

Mark Telea has been in superb form for the Blues.
Mark Telea has been in superb form for the Blues. Photo credit: Getty Images

Wilson says there's a lack of experience on the outside channels, which he believes puts pressure on other players to perform.

"The moment we moved Reiko Ioane into centre, that took one of our premier outside backs out of the game," he explains.

"We need to see a lot more consistency from Caleb Clarke. We need to see what we've seen from Leicester Fainga'anuku over the last couple of weeks over the next few weeks.

"Then, all of a sudden, we have to look at our options. Emoni Narawa, big powerful skillset, really strong... Etene Nanai-Seturo as well.

"We shouldn’t forget Shaun Stevenson, and whether or not we see the skillset at fullback slot nicely onto the wing. Let's not forget about Will Jordan."

Not even half a dozen rounds into the Super Rugby season, there's already plenty for coach Ian Foster to ponder.

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