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HomeSports'Too tough to ignore': ABs hero expects two bolters in RWC squad

‘Too tough to ignore’: ABs hero expects two bolters in RWC squad

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Former All Black Stephen Donald believes two bolters will be named in next year’s Rugby World Cup squad, including an in-form outside back who will be “too tough to ignore.”

After an up and down international season, which began with a first ever series loss in New Zealand against Ireland, the All Blacks seemed to hit their stride in the back end of the year.

While they had to overcome a genuine scare against a valiant Japan side in Tokyo, New Zealand went unbeaten throughout their end-of-season tour.

The All Blacks recorded an emphatic win over Wales in Cardiff, before beating Scotland in Murrayfield and then drawing with England in London.

But with the season now over, and with a year of international blockbusters now just a collection of memories and history, the focus has already shifted to next year’s World Cup.

New Zealand begin their World Cup campaign against tournament hosts France at Stade de France in early September, in what promises to be a crucial clash for both nations.

It’s undeniable that the All Blacks will have to be at their best to not only beat Les Bleus, but to win the tournament – so just as they did with Nehe Milner-Skudder in 2015, they may look to some fresh faces to spur the team to World Cup glory.

Rugby World Cup hero and icon Stephen ‘Beaver’ Donald, who famously kicked the winning penalty in the 2011 final, believes Shaun Stevenson will be on the plane to France.

“Shaun Stevenson will finally get the No. 15 jersey for the Chiefs for the entire campaign, he will flow on from his magnificent Barbarians and New Zealand XV form, and he will just too tough to ignore,” Donald said on SENZ’s The Run Home.

“He will be next year’s Nehe Milner-Skudder scenario.”

While Stevenson has simply been phenomenal in every jersey he’s played in this year, it’s still a bold call from Beaver considering the depth the team has in their outside backs.

Donald believes Leicester Fainga’anuku, Will Jordan and Damian McKenzie will all make the squad along with Stevenson, which leaves a number of stars potentially battling it out for one spot.

All Blacks stars Caleb Clarke, Sevu Reece, Braydon Ennor, Mark Telea and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck could all, theoretically, by vying for the final spot in the 33-man squad.

“My outside backs right now and this is obviously ridiculous, Leicester I am going to keep me all in on Leicester. I think there’s x-factor galore there,” he said.


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