Risk and reward for All Blacks

6:35 am on 31 August 2015

Risk and reward is how All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has labelled some of his selections for the World Cup.

Wingers Waisake Naholo and Nehe Milner-Skudder, prop Charlie Faumuina and half back, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, are some of the talking points in the All Blacks' 31 man squad.

All Blacks caption Richie McCaw (left) and Waisake Naholo.

All Blacks caption Richie McCaw (left) and Waisake Naholo. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Naholo was initially ruled out of contention when he suffered a broken leg on his test debut against Argentina last month.

In an effort ot make the World Cup, Naholo sought out alternative treatment in Fiji for his injury.

It means he hasn't played in almost two months, but Hansen said he was always a player they wanted.

Hansen said Naholo was a try scoring machine with x-factor and brought something to the team that others in the group did not. He said they can't win this World Cup by having just ordinary, they had to have something different, and Naholo provided that.

As for the quietly spoken 24-year-old Fijian-born flyer, he said he was honoured to have been selected after his treatment - based around massage and applying traditional leaves used in Fiji - fast-tracked him back into the squad.

Hansen said he was on the road to recovery and should be fit for their third game.

All Blacks prop Charlie Faumuina in action against the Springboks 2014.

All Blacks prop Charlie Faumuina in action against the Springboks 2014. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Prop Charlie Faumuina was another the selectors were sweating on - he managed his first outing after neck surgery over the weekend playing for Auckland.

Hansen said he was a proven test player, and all they had to do now was get him match fit. They would try and achieve that by starting him in the first couple of games of the tournament, or possibly even another game before they leave.

With the selectors deciding to take just three locks - Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano - it opened up another spot for a loosie, and that was probably Liam Messam.

After missing out on selection in 2011, Messam said he was desperate to make this World Cup.

He said he had "worked his butt off" for the last 3 years and had never forgotten what he had been through - and that was what had helped him get to this position.

Messam said the quality of the New Zealand loose forwards had made him a better player.

By contrast the Manawatu three-quarter Nehe Milner-Skudder has had a dream year.

He didn't have any expectations at the start of the season, he said, so his selection was still a shock. He had just been hoping to get a game or two for the Hurricanes and go from there.

All Black wing Nehe Milner-Skudder

All Black wing Nehe Milner-Skudder Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Milner Skudder and Naholo are perhaps the bolters - in at the expense of Israel Dagg, Charles Piutau and Cory Jane.

Milner-Skudder has plenty of sympathy for Hurricanes teammate Cory Jane, who he said has been so helpful and an inspiration to him in 2015.

Hansen has pointed out that going on the last tournament they may well need more than the 31 players they've selected.

The All Blacks have a camp in Wellington this week and Auckland next week before heading off to England with their first World Cup game against Argentina on the 21 September.

The full squad:

Hookers

Dane Coles (Wellington, 30 Tests)

Keven Mealamu (Auckland, 126 Tests)

Codie Taylor (Canterbury, three Tests)

Props

Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury, 40 Tests)

Charlie Faumuina (Auckland, 27 Tests)

Ben Franks (Hawke's Bay, 43 Tests)

Owen Franks (Canterbury, 72 Tests)

Tony Woodcock (North Harbour, 115 Tests)

Locks

Brodie Retallick (Bay of Plenty, 41 Tests)

Luke Romano (Canterbury, 20 Tests)

Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury, 66 Tests)

Loose forwards

Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty, 24 Tests)

Jerome Kaino (Auckland, 60 Tests)

Richie McCaw, captain (Canterbury, 142 Tests)

Liam Messam (Waikato, 42 Tests)

Kieran Read (Canterbury, 77 Tests)

Victor Vito (Wellington, 28 Tests)

Backs:

Halfbacks

Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Waikato, 15 Tests)

TJ Perenara (Wellington, 15 Tests)

Aaron Smith (Manawatu, 41 Tests)

First five-eighths

Beauden Barrett (Taranaki, 30 Tests)

Daniel Carter (Canterbury, 106 Tests)

Colin Slade (Canterbury, 20 Tests)

Midfielders

Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland, 11 Tests)

Ma'a Nonu (Wellington, 97 Tests)

Conrad Smith (Wellington, 88 Tests)

Sonny Bill Williams (Counties Manukau, 26 Tests)

Outside backs

Nehe Milner-Skudder (Manawatu, two Tests)

Waisake Naholo (Taranaki, one Test)

Julian Savea (Wellington, 35 Tests)

Ben Smith (Otago, 41 Tests)

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