Going into 2015, the All Blacks had an arsenal of good first five eighths to take to the Rugby World Cup, but we must remember the curse which has seen first five eighths ruled out of the last two Rugby World Cup tournaments, leaving such amazing depth pulling Stephen the Beaver Donald off a white-baiting trip into a Rugby World Cup final.
Assuming selectors go for three first five eighths, who would you choose?
Dan Carter has shown us with his form towards the end of Super Rugby 2015 that he still has the skills in the Number 10 jersey, while Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade are ideal benchwarmers with their electrifying pace and ability to cover first five eighth, fullback and even wing if needed. Carter himself has been a victim of his versatility, spending a large part of the season in the Crusaders midfield. This versatility gives them the edge over new kid on the block Lima Sopoaga who is in the current All Blacks training squad. The injured Aaron Cruden is also an outside chance, but has a serious knee injury. He can only play at first five eighth too, which isnít ideal in a tournament with limited squad numbers.
There are other contenders too, with the experienced and versatile James Marshall and Tom Taylor, and young guns like Ihaia West, Damian McKenzie, Marty McKenzie and Otere Black, but they are not likely to be required in 2015, but could play a part in future seasons. Given the All Blacks first five eighth curse, it is not outside the realms of possibility that one of these guys is needed if injuries strike.
It is a four horse race at this stage (assuming Cruden is still injured) and this is good as it gives the selectors a chance to get Lima Sopoaga into the All Blacks system if he is required. He is still young and will be an All Black, but he may not get to the Rugby World Cup, unless there is an injury.
The others will need a few injuries if they are to make the Rugby World Cup 2015 since they are currently outside the All Blacks squad.
First five eighth likelihood of attending the Rugby World Cup if fit.
Beauden Barrett 100 percent
Dan Carter 80 percent
Colin Slade 70 percent
Lima Sopoaga 30 percent
Aaron Cruden 5 percent
Damian McKenzie 5 percent
Tom Taylor 5 percent
The other five percent is split between the contenders like James Marshall, Ihaia West, Marty McKenzie, Otere Black etc.
All Blacks Rugby World Cup Squad Series - Midfield