The All Blacks will have to contend next year without Dan Carter, Richie McCaw (maybe) , Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Kevan Mealamu, Sonny Bill Williams, Liam Messam and Ben Franks. Losing that kind of quality would finish most sides – but that’s the reality that back to back world champions are facing.
That’s eight top quality players, most of which would walk into any side in the world. Is that a problem for the All Blacks? Not at all. Just look at the two sets of teams they could still put out:
15. Ben Smith / Israel Dagg
14. Nehe Milner-Skudder / Waisake Naholo
13. Malakai Fekitoa / Rene Ranger
12. Ryan Crotty / Anton Lienert-Brown
11. Julian Savea / George Moala
10. Beauden Barrett / Aaron Cruden
9. Aaron Smith / TJ Perenara
1. Joe Moody / Wyatt Crockett
2. Dane Coles / Codie Taylor
3. Charlie Faumina / Nepo Laulala
4. Brodie Retallick / Luke Romano
5. Sam Whitelock / Patrick Tuipulotu
6. Jerome Kaino / Steven Luatua
7. Ardie Savea / Sam Cane
8. Kieran Read / Victor Vito
And that doesn’t include players like Damian McKenzie, Cory Jane, Tevita Li, Lima Sopoaga, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, or Akira Ioane to name but a few.
Scary when you think about it.