Sonny Bill Williams Leaves All Blacks Jersey - Who Will Replace Him?

Sonny Bill Williams Leaves All Blacks Jersey - Who Will Replace Him?

Sonny Bill Williams is leaving New Zealand rugby and the All Blacks jersey, for the bigger money in Japan rugby and National Rugby League (NRL) for the Roosters (most probably), but this seems like a shame given that he has finally hit his straps and established himself in rugby. He is a sporting gigolo jumping into bed with whichever sport pays him the most money and he offers excitement, but now that he is leaving the All Blacks, we are left feeling a bit disappointed! At the start of the season the All Blacks looked to have a surplus of midfield backs, but now with Richard Kahui injured and Sonny Bill Williams' departure, it will be interesting to see who appears in the All Blacks midfield going forward.

Ma'a Nonu

The All Blacks selectors must have rested Ma'a Nonu on purpose during the June International test matches so that he would be peaking in time for the Rugby Championship. Nonu has been a mixed bag for the underperforming Blues, but he looks to be hitting some form at the business end of the season. Nonu must be the favourite to start in the Number 12 All Blacks jersey inside his longtime All Blacks and Hurricanes midfield partner Conrad Smith.

Tamati Ellison

The versatile Tamati Ellison made the All Blacks squad for the final match against Ireland. He was great for the Highlanders in the Super Rugby competition where he started most matches at centre. Ellison should be versatile enough to play at inside centre too as he has played in most positions in the backline in his time with the Hurricanes, Highlanders and playing briefly for the All Blacks. He has also previously played plenty with other backs at the Hurricanes who are likely to be involved including Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Piri Weepu and Hosea Gear. While Ellison may not be likely to start in the All Blacks midfield, but he could easily find himself there off the bench.

Shaun Treeby

Shaun Treeby played second five eighth for the Highlanders this year, although his season was ruined by injury. Once he gets over his injury, the powerful second five eighth must be in line for higher honours. Like Hosea Gear and Tamati Ellison, Treeby has played for the Hurricanes, but has found form for the Highlanders once he was given a chance.

Ryan Crotty

Crotty is another one of these stocky second five eighths and he had to be included in the Crusaders backline once Carter was moved to first five eighth. Crotty is a reliable performer and has formed a useful combination with the powerful Robbie Fruean at the Crusaders. He does seem to be improving.

Robbie Fruean

Fruean usually plays centre, but I wonder if he could be an option at second five eighth inside Conrad Smith? Fruean is a big centre but has been criticised for not feeding his outside backs. Maybe he needs a shift to inside centre under the steady Conrad Smith. Is his passing game up to it?

Dan Carter

DC could look to move into the midfield in an attempt to lengthen his career. His dodgy groin wouldn't be required to do as much kicking from inside centre, and this would allow the All Blacks to play with both Aaron Cruden and Dan Carter on the field at once.

Other options - some other options include Tim Bateman, Kenny Lynn, Phil Burleigh.

The main thing to consider is combinations. If you are going to retain Conrad Smith at centre, you really need a hard running and blockbusting second five eighth. That is where Nonu or moving Fruean into second five eighth could be a good option. Some of these other options play better with a big guy outside them.

Who would you like to see in the All Blacks midfield for the Rugby Championship and in the future?