All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen admitted the players were hoping for a spot on the New Zealand World Cup team later this year. Rugby fans are waiting for thrilling performances in RWC. Now you can book online tickets for Rugby World Cup to support your favourite players.
With only four rounds to go in the regular season of Super Rugby, there is little time left for players to impress the All Blacks selectors, as the race for selection in the last 31 players’ heats.
Many players from across the country, previously unknown, have emerged as potential candidates for a Rugby World Cup qualifier. Crusaders star Sevu Reece and Blues have been impressive thanks to the exceptional performance of their rookie campaigns.
While acknowledging that the reigning All Blacks still stand at the top of the standings to form the team. Hansen said the door was still open for players not part of the national structure.
“The All Blacks are starting to show up and playing really well,” Hansen told reporters at the All Blacks Foundation camp in Auckland.
We’re starting to notice young guys, so these guys are not hurting themselves either. However it’s the next few weeks that are the most important, so it’s time to look at the individuals rather than the games themselves.
The outstanding performance of chief halfback Brad Weber and Highlanders Josh Ioane at Super Rugby was enough to warrant Hansen’s attention. But the 60-year-old quickly downplayed Ioane’s qualifications, who emerged as a candidate. Leading playmaker for Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga in the absence of injured Damian McKenzie.
“You do not want to put too much pressure on those kids you know,” Hansen said.
All 10 people in the country, apart from Beauden and Richie probably think they have a chance. They do not need me to announce them, just let them play and we’ll make the decision based on what we see.
Weber had a long season in training, claiming to be the Chief back-half option ahead of three-time teammate Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, who made his international debut last year.
As a result, Weber, who has not played with the All Blacks since his Samoa test debut in 2015, seems to have usurped Tahuriorangi as third in the national standings behind veterans Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara.
Crusaders duo Bryn Hall and Mitchell Drummond also have cases to include in the All Blacks, but Weber’s form is something Hansen has taken note of.
“Brad plays really well and that’s why Te Toiroa does not take too many minutes,” Hansen said.
Brad is leading the Chiefs and Te Toiroa has returned from his off-season probably not in the form he should have been. However, Brad has taken advantage of all the opportunities he has been given.
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