The 10 High­est Pri­or­ity Play­ers to Re-sign

NZ Rugby World - - The Breakdown -

01

RIEKO IOANE He’s the best fin­isher in the world and a young man who al­ready has a huge fan base. He’s a player who lights up games and gets peo­ple ex­cited when­ever he has the ball as no one knows quite what will hap­pen.

Hav­ing played so well against the Lions and then again on the end of year tour, he’s well known to Euro­pean clubs and his value there will be sky high.

Still only 21 he could be an All Black for an­other 10 years and will be a must pick in 2019 and 2023. Re­tain­ing him is the sin­gle most im­por­tant piece of busi­ness for NZR to com­plete in 2019.

02

BEAU­DEN BAR­RETT No real need to ex­plain why Beau­den Bar­rett is hugely im­por­tant. He’s the world’s best player and, at 27, he could and should still be the All Blacks No 10 in 2023.

He’s got an enor­mous amount of rugby ahead of him and who knows how good he could be­come. He’s con­tracted to 2019 but NZR will be do­ing what they can to ex­tend that for an­other four years.

03

BRODIE RE­TAL­LICK An­other who has been around for a long time but should be here for a long time yet. Prob­a­bly the world’s best lock and cer­tainly the most de­struc­tive ball car­rier. It’s hard to imag­ine an All Blacks pack with­out him.

When he was left at home last year to get over a per­sonal tragedy, the All Blacks missed him. He’s also locked in un­til 2019 but his best years could be still to come and he may not even be in his prime by 2023.

04

SAM CANE Sam Cane may be the next All Blacks cap­tain when Kieran Read calls it quits. He’s al­ready played more than 50 tests and in the last year has shown that he’s de­vel­op­ing into a world class open­side.

By 2020 this guy could be out­stand­ing and a nat­u­ral and gifted leader – ab­so­lutely the right man to lead the All Blacks through to the 2023 World Cup.

05

AN­TON LIENERT-BROWN It’s prob­a­ble that Sonny Bill Wil­liams will re­tire af­ter the World Cup and Ryan Crotty may con­sider an over­seas shift. Mid­field stocks could there­fore be thinned and the All Blacks short of ex­pe­ri­ence.

So that raises the im­por­tance of An­ton Lienert-Brown who will au­to­mat­i­cally be­come the se­nior pro­fes­sional and su­per im­por­tant to the All Blacks af­ter 2019. He’s a qual­ity act al­ready, but in an­other two years his value will soar.

06

SAM WHITE­LOCK The thing about locks is that they can chug on for a long time. Sam White­lock, then, may be nowhere near his peak. He could have an­other four good years left in him.

Look how much he’s im­proved in the last 18 months – be­com­ing such a good leader, de­ci­sion­maker and con­trib­u­tor be­yond his core roles. He was de­servedly New Zealand’s player of the year in 2017 and the All Blacks will want him stick­ing around un­til 2023.

07

CODIE TAY­LOR Dane Coles is bril­liant and hope­fully he will hang around for a while af­ter the World Cup. But he’ll be push­ing 33 and while that shouldn’t mean he won’t have any­thing left, it will be a yearby-year sce­nario for him by then.

Cue Codie Tay­lor who last year was eas­ily the most im­proved All Black and de­liv­ered qual­ity per­for­mances through­out the year.

He’ll be push­ing Coles hard this year and next.

08

LIAM SQUIRE With Jerome Kaino hav­ing re­tired, Liam Squire is now the clear num­ber one blind­side in the coun­try. He’s set­tling into his craft, learn­ing his trade pretty well and has the po­ten­tial to grow into a teak­tough No 6 if he stays here.

09

JORDIE BAR­RETT This young man is a spe­cial, spe­cial ta­lent much like Rieko Ioane. Bar­rett can kick goals, take high balls and play any­where across the back­line. He’s only 20 and is pre­sum­ably go­ing to be a huge part of the plans from here through to 2019 and way be­yond.

10

AKIRA IOANE Now that McKenzie has been locked in, ar­guably the next best young thing in NZ is Akira Ioane.

The older brother of Rieko is also off con­tract this year but is un­likely to be­gin ne­go­ti­a­tion to stay for a few weeks yet. He’s keen to show his worth on the pitch first, which he has been do­ing by hav­ing made an im­pres­sive start to Su­per Rugby.

Akira is fi­nally com­ing good on his po­ten­tial and show­ing that he could be a world class force if he con­tin­ues to de­velop as he is.

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