'You're wondering who do we leave out!' Guy Heveldt says All Blacks' talent depth will see unlucky stars left out of squad

The unbelievable depth of talent the All Blacks have at their disposal currently will lead to some disappointed Super Rugby stars missing out at Sunday's team announcement.

That's the feeling coming from 1 NEWS Sport reporter Guy Heveldt ahead of this weekend's selections as the All Blacks gear up to host rivals France in a three-Test series next month.

Heveldt told TVNZ1's Breakfast there are three positions in particular which will be heavily contested.

"Number 8, the midfield and the wing," Heveldt said.

"Number 8 because Kieran Read is out of this series - he will go into camp and train with the team but he won't play - so there you've got no captain and you've got to fill Number 8."

Heveldt says there are two options to fill the void of the 108-cap loose forward.

"Luke Whitelock who captained the All Blacks last year and Jordan Taufua who is playing incredibly well for the Crusaders."

Heveldt says the All Blacks will likely take four midfielders in their 32-man squad, backing Test experience over recent experience to be the main criteria they go off.

"There's Nani Laumape, Sonny Bill Williams, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Rob Thompson - they're all really good players.

"I think they'll probably go with the Likes of Sonny Bill, Laumape and Crotty - I don't know about the fourth."

The same dilemma lies further out on the wing.

"You've got guys like Julian Savea, Wiasake Naholo, Rieko Ioane, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Ben Lam who is scoring tries for fun - who do you pick from that?

"I think Ben Lam might be a little bit unlucky just because the All Blacks love picking players that they know and trust... he'll get a chance at some stage though."

Heveldt also backs either Sam Cane or Sam Whitelock to captain the side in Read's absence.

Possible All Blacks squad

Hookers: Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris, Ricky Riccitelli

Props: Joe Moody, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Owen Franks, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen

Locks: Sam Whitelock (captain), Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Vaea Fifita

Loose Forwards: Ardie Savea, Sam Cane, Jordan Taufua, Liam Squire, Akira Ioane

Halfbacks: Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi

First-fives: Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo'unga

Midfield: Sonny-Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape

Outside Backs: Rieko Ioane, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Jordie Barrett, Ben Smith

With the All Blacks squad named on Sunday, Heveldt chipped in his picks for the team. Source: Breakfast


1 NEWS NOW expert's Super Rugby predictions: Winning streak against Aussies is safe for another two games

With two chances of the winning streak against Australian sides ending and a local derby on the cards this week, 1 NEWS NOW rugby expert Campbell Burnes breaks down the latest round of Super Rugby action.

Hurricanes v Reds - Hurricanes by 23

The Hurricanes are resting Brad Shields, Vaea Fifita and Ngani Laumape, but they hardly look weaker for it. TJ Perenara will lead the side as they seek to rack up win No 40 in the NZ-Australia ‘series’. The Canes are still desperately seeking that elusive 80-minute display, so watch out whoever gets in their way. The Reds would love to keep it close after their shellacking in Tokyo.

Blues v Crusaders - Crusaders by 18

We tried to find any evidence to give credence to the chances of a Blues victory. There is none, not even Tana Umaga’s re-engagement for 2019. There is, however, a debut for Bombay and Steelers lock Matiaha Martin, so he will have a steep learning curve against the likes of Scott Barrett. How do you like the SBW-Ryan Crotty match-up at No 12, or Jordan Taufua versus Akira Ioane?

Waratahs v Highlanders - Highlanders by 10

The Waratahs will not be thrilled they have another Kiwi referee – Brendon Pickerill – for this trans-Tasman clash. But they also know another 40 minutes like their first half against the Crusaders should be good enough at home. The bad news is that Aaron Smith is back for the visitors, not to mention Jackson Hemopo, Dillon Hunt and Tevita Li. Form would suggest the Highlanders at a canter.

Sharks v Chiefs - Sharks by 11

Last weekend I did not give the Chiefs the benefit of the doubt, and they surprised me with their win in Cape Town. So I will again use the same tactic, knowing that thousands of their fans and the whole squad read this column and use it as motivation. Of more import is the fact the Sharks seem to go alright against the Kiwi teams, but struggle against fellow South Africans.

Ash Dixon Celebrates, NSW Waratahs v Otago Highlanders Semi Final. Sport Rugby Union Super Rugby Domestic Provincial. Allianz Stadium SFS. 27 June 2015. Photo by Paul Seiser/SPA Images
Ash Dixon celebrates winning the 2015 Super Rugby semi-final against the Waratahs. Source: Photosport


Chiefs name inexperienced squad for clash with Sharks

The Chiefs have named a heavily depleted side to face the Sharks in Durban on Sunday morning.

The Waikato side is without key players for the Super Rugby fixture with their All Blacks remaining in New Zealand this week for a training camp this weekend.

As a result, Damian McKenzie, Brodie Retallick, Anton Lienert-Brown and Nathan Harris all needed to be replaced in the team.

Captain Charlie Ngatai moves to the centres to replace Lienert-Brown as a result, with Scott Stevenson slotting into fullback to cover while Marty McKenzie takes over his brother's spot at first-five.

Sean Wainui has also come into the starting XV after rotating on the wing with Toni Pulu.

The Chiefs have made just one change in the forwards, with Pita Gus Sowakula starting at No.8 while Tyler Ardron fills in for Retallick at lock.

Head Coach Colin Cooper says he and the inexperienced team are looking forward to the challenge.

"We are in our second week of this tough tour, and we were very happy to beat the Stormers," he said.

"We are looking forward to a great contest in Durban against the Sharks. It's going to be another tough game for us, but we are really excited about the challenge ahead.

"The team has united really quickly, and we are certainly looking forward to the challenge in the Shark Tank."

Chiefs: 1. Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2. Liam Polwart, 3. Angus Ta’avao, 4. Tyler Ardron, 5. Michael Allardice, 6. Luke Jacobson, 7. Liam Messam, 8. Pita Gus Sowakula, 9. Brad Weber, 10. Marty McKenzie, 11. Solomon Alaimalo, 12. Johnny Fa'auli, 13. Charlie Ngatai (C), 14. Sean Wainui, 15. Shaun Stevenson

Substitutes: 16. Samisoni Taukei'aho, 17. Sam Prattley, 18. Sosefo Kautai, 19. Jesse Parete, 20. Matt Matich, 21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22. Luteru Laulala, 23. Toni Pulu

Liam Messam.
Chiefs v Jaguares, Super Rugby, Rotorua International Stadium, Rotorua, New Zealand on the 4th May 2018. Copyright Photo: Jeremy Ward / www.photosport.nz
Liam Messam Source: Photosport