Two days out from the picking of the World Cup team it is time to commit to the team I think they will pick. I think it is pretty easy if you take 3 hookers and 3 half-backs after last night's loss to South Africa. There are a few points of interest.
The first is who will miss out in the wings. After Toeava showed he is back, I think Gear and Guilford will be the unlucky two. I think they will go for the multi-skilled/position type players over the genuine hard out wingers like Guilford and Gear, despite their talent. Kahui could miss out I suppose if Toeava is picked to cover centre and this would make room for Gear. Or even SBW could sensationally be left out with Kahui and Toeava as back up midfielders?
Then there is the first five, and I have gone for Slade but there may be a surprise with Cruden after his brilliant performance for Manawatu and Slade's decidedly average game against the Boks. But that was only Manawatu against Waikato. Slade will have learnt heaps like, kick the ball deep boy! Still, I wouldn't be surprised if they go that way, or even Weepu as back up.
The fifth loosie is tricky with Thompson, Messam, Vito and as a bolter, Todd, a possibility. Personally I would have Todd because we need another genuine 7. But, we can always bring him in if Richie goes down for the whole cup. So, I think they will stick with Messam. Hoeata is an outside chance as the fourth lock, and he can cover blindside meaning Boric would miss out I suppose.
Lock is interesting with Whitelock, Williams, Boric and Donnelly fighting out for the final locking position. I am sure Whitelock will get in even if he was not great against the Boks, he is a rising superstar. While I am still not convinced about Williams after his comeback, they obviously like him, so I think he will get in. If Boric is fit, he will be in. But Donnelly stands ready. So I will go for Boric.
Then there is loosehead prop. I would go for Crockett as his workrate is amazing, but his scrummaging still has a question mark, so I am sure Woodcock is in. The only wild card is if they take Weepu as back up first five, and Ofoa as back up hooker. This would create space for more options like Gear and/or Todd or Vito. With the cup in NZ, they can bring people in, so who knows. So, here is my team. What do you think?
R. McCaw (Capt)