22 Jun 2015

All Black incumbents will be pushed - Hansen

7:49 am on 22 June 2015

The All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's expecting his new outside backs named yesterday in the first 41-man squad of this World Cup year to put some real heat on the incumbents.

The All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

The All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Hansen's sure the Highlanders right wing Waisake Naholo and the Hurricanes fullback cum wing Nehe Milner-Skudder will push the likes of Cory Jane, Charles Piutau and Israel Dagg for places in the All Blacks.

"Yeah well both those guys have been outstanding haven't they and you just couldn't leave them out and while they've been outstanding guys like Charles Piutau and Corey [Jane] haven't been playing much because they've been injured and throw Izzie [Israel Dagg] in there as well," he said.

"Once we get them back it will be interesting to see who can cope with the pressure of the competition and we'll have to make some big decisions."

The blockbusting Naholo's an out and out No.14 for the Highlanders, while Milner-Skudder has shone at fullback and wing for the Hurricanes.

Hansen says he considers Milner-Skudder as a possible wing rather than fullback, where he's got Ben Smith, Israel Dagg and Charles Piutau - all of whom can also play on the wing.

And while Julian Savea seems to have a lock on the left wing berth, Hansen's not so sure that's the only wing Savea can shine on.

"All of them are in the running for it, you know there's Milner-Skudder, you've got Waisake, you've got Julian Savea, Corey Jane, Charles Piutau, they'll all have an opportunity to wear either 11 or 14 so it's a really tight position."

Nehe Milner-Skudder's still pinching himself after an outstanding debut Super Rugby season with minor premiers the Hurricanes earned him the call-up.

The 24-year-old from Taihape, who plays for Manawatu in the national Premiership, is one of the real bolters in the squad.

"Yeah can't really believe it at this stage just from going back to last year and sort of the progress that's happened to now so yeah pretty happy and just blown away at the moment."

Hansen says they still hadn't confirmed a couple of players until the Highlanders-Chiefs playoff game on Saturday night.

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