Countdown is on: 100 days until Rugby World Cup

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 12 June 2019, 12:49PM

The 2019 Rugby World Cup is fast approaching - but will the players be paying attention?

There are only 100 days left until the tournament kicks off in Japan, beginning two months of closely fought rugby between the best teams in the world. 

Hopeful All Blacks have potentially one more round of Super Rugby games to impress Steve Hansen and selectors before the playoffs begin next weekend.

Former All Black turned commentator Justin Marshall told Mike Hosking that the 100 day mark is something nice to aim before. "It's coming up very quickly."

Marshall says that there will be four test matches between the end of the Super Rugby and the tournament, and Hansen will likely use that opportunity to see how certain players perform. 

"If they don't like what they see, they simply won't select him and go the status quo. Or they will use the four test matches to re-establish the players they know the most about."

The All Blacks have an incredible depth in multiple positions, and Marshall says that a look of good names are going to miss out. He thinks the midfield place will be the most tightly contested, with the likes of Ryan Crotty likely to miss out. 

The All Blacks' 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan will be revealed in August. The side's first test of the tournament is against rivals South Africa on September 21, a day after the tournament opener between Japan and Russia.

Former All Black Mils Muliaina told Radio Sport Breakfast that, of the current crop of All Blacks, the pressure was probably most on winger Waisake Naholo who only just returned from a serious knee injury for the Highlanders weekend.

"The obvious one probably because he's been out with injury for a very long time is probably Waisake Naholo. He came back last week and scored two tries. Shows just how good he is."

"There's uncontrollables. The fact you're injured. Sometimes you put yourself under so much pressure, you get yourself out there way too early and then all of a sudden you do something again like Kevin Durant did in the NBA finals. So those are the worrying things that guys have on their mind – 'perhaps haven't shown enough during the year to get myself picked'," Muliaina said.

Muliaina picked one bolter for the squad - Crusaders winger Sevu Reece who leads Super Rugby with 13 tries this season.

"It's hard not to go past a bolter like Sevu Reece and what he's done. He brings x-factor. It's really down to do they want to take two specialist wingers opposed to one specialist winger who is definitely on the list who is Rieko Ioane. Then you have someone who can cover the other positions. The makeup is huge. Sevu Reece for me has been spectacular this season."

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