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So how could the All Blacks line up in the 2027 Rugby World Cup?

As soon as Scott "Razor" Robertson, was signed on a four-year deal from 2024-27 as the All Blacks' Head Coach, I immediately shared my thoughts on who Razor may select for his inaugural All Blacks squad of 2024 (assuming he picks 33 players).

My take on a possible backline that the All Blacks may field in 2024. This will inevitably look very different by 2027's Rugby World Cup, to be hosted in Australia.

Marino Mikaele-Tu'u has since announced his move to Japan, while Leicester Fainga'anuku has also signed for Toulon, France; his contract with Toulon does not expire until mid-way through 2025. Attempting to guess a World Cup squad four years out, can be hugely risky, but let's put our selectors' hats on and discuss the possibilities.

Razor doesn't carry any baggage, or negative selection habits into this role. For the first time in a very long time, we'll be able to genuinely debate the true skill of players and their potential in 2024. Not just suck up the "should have been" discussions. Let's adapt into a growth mindset, examine players' potential, to see what they could be in 2027, rather than nit-picking everything.


1. Samisoni Taukei'aho (Chiefs)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 30 years old

At 30 years old, Taukei'aho will be a mature player and a core member of the All Blacks' leadership group for 2027; perhaps even the Chiefs' captain by that point, though some fellow All Blacks will challenge him for that role. Taukei'aho is already a near-complete player, who wins turnovers, makes the tackles and most importantly, carries hard with proper ball-handling.

Having been signed by New Zealand Rugby through to 2027, Razor clearly looks at Taukei'aho as a core pick, towards his rebuild of the NZR's reputation. For a long time, the All Blacks have missed tight-five forwards who don't care about hurting their opponents and Taukei'aho, is the definition of that. The lineout master is here to stay.

2. Codie Taylor (Crusaders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 36 years old

The anti-Taylor hate train from 2022 was completely out of proportions. He remains a fine player who scored 12 tries in 2023; to become the highest try-scoring forward in Super Rugby Pacific's history - breaking the record of Scott Higginbotham. Taylor remains the prototype of wide-receiving forwards who can operate as a single man pod; but old dogs can still be taught new tricks.

Taylor, a Feilding High School alumni, has 76 test caps as of the time this article is being written, so could reach 100 prior to the 2027 Rugby World Cup. Photo: Max Sharp.

If Ian Foster is willing to select the always-injured Dane Coles, who offers nothing on the pitch in 2023 (bar bullying his opponents), in 2023, then Razor will almost certainly look to his Crusaders vice-captain in a position without many clear heir apparent. Taylor's contract is through to 2025 and as a business owner, Taylor will be unlikely to seek the yen or euro overseas. If Taylor can stay fit, he'll also have the motivation of 100 test caps and being the last remaining player from the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

3. George Bell (Crusaders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 25 years old

Although there isn't a clear heir apparent at hooker, George Bell will have the inside running, as Taylor's apprentice at the Crusaders. Tyrone Thompson, Jack Taylor and Asafo Aumua will no doubt receive caps during the up-coming World Cup cycle, but as a former NZ U20 captain and very similar ball-carrier to Taukei'aho, Bell will have more potential.

To balance the age of Taukei'aho and Taylor, Bell will be certain to attain a high level of minutes during Super Rugby, to manage Taylor's workload. Jason Ryan could even see him as a safe option who can be trusted in the long-term.


4. Ethan de Groot (Highlanders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 29 years old

5. Tyrel Lomax (Hurricanes)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 31 years old

de Groot and Lomax had huge moments of redemption in 2022, after de Groot faced the humiliation of being labelled as "not fit enough"; while Lomax was dropped after a poor Super Rugby season. After stepping up at Ellis Park Stadium, they formed the "Jason Ryan front-row" with Taukei'aho.

While several New Zealanders' obsession with the "next generation" will see many call for the culling of all players aged 27 or over, de Groot and Lomax will be completing the prime years of their career by 2027. Most props tend to peak around the ages of 27-31, while most players do so aged 25-29.

If fit, de Groot and Lomax will be unchallenged as the All Blacks' starting front row, before even bigger bodies replace them off the bench. Both have been re-signed through to 2026.

6. Finlay Brewis (Crusaders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 27 years old

7. Fletcher Newell (Crusaders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 27 years old

Jason Ryan's expertise will provide a near-certainty on scrum balance and his established relationships with Finlay Brewis and Fletcher Newell will see them deployed by the All Blacks as one of two groups that can be called upon. Brewis and Newell both stand at 1.86m tall, with stocky bodies and powerful legs, so will be the desired replacements against slower opponents like England and South Africa.

Brewis and Newell, the latter of whom has already played 6 tests, will also be in their prime prop years; with a combined low centre of gravity that can punish opponents who refuse to actually play rugby, by dismantling their only strong point of a set-piece. The Kyle Sincklers and Dan Coles of the world will be shivering against these two, with nothing for Steve Borthwick's slow England, to fall back on.

8. Ollie Norris (Chiefs)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 27 years old

9. Tamaiti Williams (Crusaders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 27 years old

Against most opponents through, who actually want to play rugby, look for rapid ruck clearances via two of the biggest players who will ever wear a black jersey. Though Norris' elevation to a black jersey is now scheduled to take place later than initially expected by Chiefs fans, the attention detail he'll provide the ruck is hugely important off the bench, while Williams is even harder to clean out, at 140kg.

Williams (number 18, second-from right), has improved his fitness very much since the 2022 NPC Final in which he is pictured playing. Photo: Max Sharp.

With Norris weighing in at 126kg, the two Māori All Blacks teammates are a whopping 266kg put together, while both stand at 1.96m tall. Williams has received his first call-up in 2023 and though Xavier Numia and Tevita Mafileo were preferred for the All Blacks XV; the inevitable Clayton McMillan Chiefs dynasty will make Norris an irresistible call-up, especially with Aidan Ross' injury history.


10. Tupou Vaa'i (Chiefs)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 27 years old

While Vaa'i's 118kg frame has only been used in 18 tests, despite his ongoing run of form at Super Rugby, he's shown signs of what will come at test level against Argentina & the USA in 2021, while he was trusted off the bench against South Africa in 2022. The athletic lock model, as shown by the likes of Cameron Woki, Thibaud Flament, Lood de Jager, Courtney Lawes and Tadgh Beirne; has become a staple of modern rugby and Vaa'i fits the bill perfectly.

Having played many tests with Scott Barrett, a much stockier scrummaging lock; albeit with pace, Vaa'i shows up as a solid partner. With the impending exits of Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock, as well as the recurring injuries to Patrick Tuipulotu, Vaa'i will become one of the pack's leaders for 2027, as we see new faces backing him up.

11. Scott Barrett (Crusaders) - Captain

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 33 years old

Four titles as Crusaders captain, with 7 in the team in total under Razor. Barrett played his first game for Canterbury in 2014, with Razor as the coach, before at long last joining his brother Beauden at test-level, scoring a try on debut in 2016, against Ireland. That loss has fuelled Barrett to become an all-round lock-6 cover, with powerful scrum technique, huge tackles and rough carrying.

Although Beauden and Jordie Barrett have overshadowed Scott; marketing teams utilising them as they're backs, all eyes are set to be on Scott. With Ardie Savea about to take a sabbatical and no other proven picks at lock aside from Vaa'i, Barrett is the perfect choice as captain. The man who gave Barrett his first game in the NPC, is about to elevate him to national captain. It's Allister Coetzee and Eben Etzebeth, Eddie Jones and Owen Farrell, Michael Chieka and Michael Hooper all over again.

The middle brother, out of five brothers and three sisters, grew to be the tallest and will use those gigantic arms, to possibly lift the Webb Ellis Cup in his final test; having got used to trophy-lifting over the years!

12. Josh Lord (Chiefs)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 26 years old

Well simply put, Razor will mandate back-up to his captain from day one. Although Lord's 11-month absence from an ACL injury in 2022-23, may mean he misses this year's World Cup, he remains on Ian Foster's radar and has beaten Patrick Tuipulotu for selection in 2023. Jason Ryan has already got his eyes on Lord, who could become one of the best players in the world after he completes his current bulk-up.

Lord's current focus, as stated in this interview on The Black Jersey, is his return from injury; that will inevitably lead to a long and storied career.

Lord is very similar to Vaa'i, with an athletic approach, that many coaches like from their lock-6 covers. So that Barrett's share of the 5 depth chart doesn't get too gigantic; look for Lord to replace the blindside in several tests before 2027, with Barrett moving there to see out the full 80. Lord is also very strong, with a high rugby IQ; while he has gone from 106kg to 112kg since his test debut.

13. Fabian Holland (Highlanders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 24 years old

Although the presence of Pari Pari Parkinson and Mitchell Dunshea, the latter of whom is a new signing, at the Highlanders for 2024; Holland will certainly begin to catch eyebrows later in the World Cup cycle. Although his 2023 season got cut short by injury, he showed an ability to step up, while already standing at 2.04m and 118kg.

The All Blacks XV of 2023 does not have any youth at lock, with Quinten Strange, Isaia Walker-Leawere and Naitoa Ah Kuoi, all likely to be gone, should Ah Kuoi continue getting denied a start for the Chiefs. From there it's anybody's game and if there's one thing this Netherlands-born prospect has already shown, it's an impressive work ethic.

Loose Forwards:

14. Samipeni Finau (Chiefs)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 28 years old

As mentioned earlier, the third lock at 6 trend, is appearing to no longer be a trend, but the necessary mandate at test rugby. Similarly to 2016, when Owen Farrell was utterly robbed of World Rugby Player of the year, after killing the crash-ball running 12, 2020 was the year that Marcos Kremer of Los Pumas had his breakout match and showcased that the role of a blindside flanker is dead and that the 6 jersey now belongs to a third lock.

2023 has seen Samipeni Finau called into the All Blacks as a like-for-like replacement of Shannon Frizell, thanks to his operations as a single-man pod for the Chiefs, carrying hard and making the tough tackles, while being lifted by the second row to dismantle lineouts. Should Finau remain in form, it's pretty difficult to see him not being the new Jerome Kaino.

15. Cameron Suafoa (Blues)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 29 years old

There are several players in New Zealand Rugby who could fill a similar role to Finau and Frizell, with Max Hicks, Caleb Delany, Dominic Gardiner and Naitoa Ah Kuoi being those available for test rugby from 2024 onwards. If Razor wishes to select a second-choice who is similar to Finau, Suafoa would be the safest bet, given he is a regular in the Blues' match-day 23.

A member of the North Harbour Heat's leadership group for 2022, Suafoa can cover lock, 6 and 8. Leon MacDonald, having coached Suafoa in Super Rugby, will be able to push for his selection, while he has already been awarded with a call up to the All Blacks XV after having a breakout Super Rugby season during 2023. By 2027, Suafoa will be an experienced player who can be counted on.

16. Dalton Papali'i (Blues)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 29 years old

Papali'i will turn 30 years old during the 2027 Rugby World Cup and be one of the most obvious captaincy options, should Scott Barrett succumb to injury. The Blues captain is a workhorse who demands everything from those around him and plays with absolute passion, that will always result in high metres-per-carry and several tackles a game to go with his love for turnovers.

Sam Cane, the All Blacks' captain in 2023, may not last until 2027; having had a long list of injuries throughout his career. Photo: Max Sharp.

An aggressive number 7 who stands at 1.93m and 113kg, Papali'i will channel this into consistent performances under Razor, with Sam Cane likely to be phased out of the team after reaching 100 test caps due to his injury history. If Barrett isn't pleased with a player's efforts in training, then expect Papali'i, the enforcer, to be first to show them the door!

17. Anton Segner (Blues)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 26 years old

As for backup at openside, Sam Cane could still be young enough at 35 years old, but his injury history may lend a hand to a younger player, while Tom Christie has been excluded from the All Blacks XV aged 25 in 2023. German-born Anton Segner, a standout for Tasman in recent years, could possibly be the beneficiary should neither two receive a contract extension.

Able to cover 6, 7 and 8 off the bench, Segner also shapes as a lineout option, standing at 1.92m and 108kg, a very similar frame to Shannon Frizell. Though he has played just 16 games for the Blues thus far due to injury, he has started in most and possesses a Kieran Read-like instinct for winning the turnover. Segner's chances will be especially high, should Akira Ioane and Hoskins Sotutu exit after 2024.

18. Ardie Savea (Hurricanes)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 33 years old

While the usual comments to get rid of the old boys' club will resurface yet again in 2027, Ardie Savea will save his very best for last. The 70-test veteran will turn 34 years old during the World Cup and will want to go all out for his third tournament, as he may wish to represent Samoa in 2031, as a 38-year-old, should the body permit. Rarely injured, Savea is likely to remain fit for selection in 2027.

Savea (pictured for the Hurricanes in 2019), will return to his home town after a sabbatical clause, that will likely prolong his ability to play professional rugby. Photo: Max Sharp.

Should he experience a slight decrease in explosive power, he will still have the body muscle percentage to carry hard and make the robust hits in tight channels, in the mould of Kieran Read during 2019, or Sam Whitelock in today's age. Savea's current contract is through to 2025, while he will use his sabbatical clause to play in Japan during 2024, before re-joining the All Blacks for the 2024 Rugby Championship.

19. Peter Lakai (Hurricanes)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 24 years old

A spot on the bench for 2027 is essentially a straight shootout between Lakai and Segner, unless Ethan Blackadder's injury war ends at last, or Sean Withy revives the Highlanders as their new captain. While Lakai's best position is likely openside flanker, he's all but certain to get a go at 8 during Savea's temporary absence in 2024.

At 1.86m and 110kg, Lakai has a low centre of gravity that Jason Ryan may prefer to Hoskins Sotutu, while Lakai is already becoming famed for his daring runs and prolific tackle count. If any players from the 2023 U20 group will light the world up, he's the man. Considering the likelihood of a second-choice Hurricanes spine, with Jason Holland as an assistant coach, it's when Lakai will be an All Black, not if.


20. Folau Fakatava (Highlanders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 27 years old

Although he made a return earlier than expected after taking a non-surgical approach to a repeated ACL injury in 2022, Fakatava was always going to miss the 2023 Rugby World Cup after he missed out on a decent amount of game time under Foster. Those who assume Fakatava can't manage a game though, will have their minds blown by 2027. The damage done to the Highlanders in recent times by a lack of depth at lock, as well as Tony Brown, has been genuinely underestimated.

Fakatava's potential was so obvious to Ian Foster, that he received exemption after World Rugby's eligibility changes - Foster would have picked him in 2021 if not for injury and this was prior to the law changes. Photo: Max Sharp.

With Clarke Dermody retained as Head Coach, Fakatava will be a key leader for a young team in 2024. He already has all of the natural abilities around the field, as well as his basics down. Fakatava's fast-paced take on the game will see him restored to a black jersey and ready to be replaced by a man who is set to become one of the All Blacks' greatest impact players of all time.

21. Cam Roigard (Hurricanes)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 26 years old

The bloke with that impact player potential, is none other than Cam Roigard, who scores tries for fun and will be somebody that Razor will count on to score the winning try many a time. Roigard's first All Blacks call-up in 2023 will certainly set him on the path towards a long international career, especially with Jason Holland as one of the assistant coaches.

Roigard's club-level cohesion with Ruben Love, Harry Godfrey and Aidan Morgan will be certain to give opponents trouble in a black jersey, provided Godfrey can get game time regularly from this point onwards, while Love will hopefully be able to end his run of injuries. Roigard's box-kicking will also provide a solid alternative for slower opponents.

22. Noah Hotham (Crusaders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 24 years old

Hotham's backs coach at the Crusaders, James Marshall, said it first. It's a case of when Hotham becomes an All Black, not if. Captaining the NZ U20's in 2023, Hotham also had a breakout season at 9 for the Crusaders in his first season of Super Rugby. His sister, Jazmin Felix-Hotham, has already worn a black jersey in 7s, while his father has coached Hamilton Boys' High School for a long time.

What sets Hotham apart though, is his noticeable level of muscle definition for a young 9. With Aaron Smith's defensive role being behind the breakdown, Hotham's similarities to Fakatava will give Razor's All Blacks the freedom to play with a halfback in the main defensive line, while if injuries occur, Hotham is the guy who will be able to push the Jason Ryan forward pack around. Finlay Christie, who will be aged 32 in 2027, may have already left by then.


23. Richie Mo'unga (Crusaders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 33 years old

This is the guy they label the "quarterback". The man who has been alongside Sam Whitelock as the beating heart of the Crusaders dynasty. If a 38-year-old Johnny Sexton, as well as Nicolás Sanchez, Dan Carter and Quade Cooper can guide their teams from 10 late into their careers, then Mo'unga, who has signed to 2026 with Toshiba Brave Lupus; could easily return and slot back into the All Blacks seamlessly.

While there remains the odd comment about how Mo'unga can't manage a game and hasn't done anything at test level, those who pay the proper attention to detail know that Mo'unga worked with David Havili to save Ian Foster's coaching career. Mo'unga has already played 44 tests and his strong relationship with Razor, will almost certainly extend that total after his Japan deal ends.

24. Aidan Morgan (Hurricanes)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 26 years old

Damian McKenzie will likely assume the throne at 10 initially, before being phased out of the team, similarly to Sam Cane. Although people will bring up Cam Millar, Taha Kemara, Fergus Burke, as well as Morgan's teammates Harry Godfrey & Ruben Love; both of the latter two prefer playing at fullback, while Morgan certainly has the highest ceiling of these up-and-coming first-fives.

Aidan Morgan is pictured kicking a penalty goal for Wellington in the 2022 NPC Final, against Canterbury. Photo: Max Sharp.

Hurricanes fans have been ruthless to Morgan, but such comments are a symptom of fans' own need for instant gratification, rather than Morgan's own ability. Imperfections at his current age are absolutely normal and time in the saddle is the best fix for such a thing. Morgan's game management and kicking have grown exponentially since his Super Rugby debut, so with one more year of ironing out his confidence, expect a test debut in 2024 and a place at the World Cup in 2027.

25. Ruben Love (Hurricanes)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 26 years old

If Roigard is on the bench, then it's inevitable that Ruben Love will replace Damian McKenzie as the utility man who can cover 10 and 15 off the bench. Love is a proper defensive fullback, who also possesses a strong boot, hence why he has occasionally slot into the 10 jersey for Wellington and the Hurricanes. The Morgan-Love axis was a strong part of Wellington's NPC title in 2022, so imagine the stuff we could see out of their cohesion with Roigard.

Set for a breakout year in 2023, Love's hopes were denied by a long-term injury, though he has been named to start for the All Blacks XV against Japan on 08/07/23. Love's pace and distribution will be a useful tool to add tempo off the bench, while he may even join Taylor, Williams, Norris, Lomax, Ioane, Tupaea, Rona and Spencer, in the conversation of players who could lead the All Blacks' haka. This is thanks to Love's outstanding work against Ireland, for the Māori All Blacks in 2022.


26. Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 30 years old

Considering the high turnover of players from the Foster era to the Razor era, midfield will likely be one of the areas with more of a consistent look between the two. Although Ian Foster has succumbed to media pressure to sabotage the team's combination-building, playing Barrett at 12 three times; this will have no bearings on 2027.

Barrett will get four straight seasons of combination-building with Ioane and if he does indeed develop the instincts of a 12, well then that's great news for him, as David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown could likely be gone after their injury runs. If Barrett can rediscover the spark that made him the world's best fullback, then hopefully he becomes the defensive 12 that can step up outside the team's smaller first-fives.

27. Rieko Ioane (Blues)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 30 years old

The end of Doug Howlett's record as the All Blacks' highest-ever try scorer, is nearing. Ioane has 33 tries from 59 tests at just 26 years old, scoring nine of those tries under Ian Foster. While Ioane's move from 11 to 13 has slowed down his rate of scoring, this position change has given him the longevity that will allow him to chase Howlett's record down.

Having signed on to 2027, Ioane, the quickest All Black of all time, is set to be a key member of Razor's leadership group. While there are those who still somehow remain, saying Ioane is still better on the wing, such takes are completely unfounded. Ioane is looking to create a legacy and is set to go down amongst the greats.

28. Quinn Tupaea (Chiefs)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 28 years old

Although the gruesome cheap shot on Tupaea by Darcy Swain, has ruled him out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, 2027 will be ready for Tupaea. He's still a young player aged 24, so you wouldn't need to worry of his career being over. If Ma'a Nonu could come back from being dropped at 25 years old in 2007, then Quinn Tupaea will be able to bounce back from injury within a few years.

Although Tupaea has yet to show this skill in a game, he has the kicking range of 40m or so; as pictured at a Chiefs training. Photo: Max Sharp.

The Chiefs may have lost the Super Rugby Final in 2023, but Tupaea will be a big part of their upcoming dominance in Super Rugby, especially with the kicking game he'd worked on behind the scenes, but didn't get to show at test level. The ability to cover wing and flanker will make Tupaea the excellent backline utility after David Havili finishes his time in international rugby.

29. Daniel Rona (Chiefs)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 27 years old

If Havili and Lienert-Brown do indeed play their final test match prior to 2027, options at 13 still look a little light. Levi Aumua may be too old aged 32, Braydon Ennor has an injury history, while the only other long-term option at 13; Billy Proctor, hasn't shown any evidence of having the potential to do well at test level. Daniel Rona is, in this scenario, the man who can get the job.

His older brother Curtis, is a former Wallaby, while he had his own breakout season for the Chiefs in 2023, on a short-term deal. Signed on for 2024 as Alex Nankivell's replacement, the incoming Chiefs dynasty could well provide the second-choice options for both 12 and 13, towards Razor's All Blacks. Rona is quick, defensively apt and of course, a name that will put bums on seats before long. At 27 years old, Rona will be at his peak for 2027.

Outside Backs:

30. Will Jordan (Crusaders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 29 years old

Having signed on to 2027, it is essentially a done deal that Will Jordan will shift from 14 to 15, as Ben Smith and Jeff Wilson once did. Jordan's in-game attributes are strikingly similar to Wilson's and if he can keep his migraines away, he could give Ioane's chase of Doug Howlett's record a run for its money.

Smith peaked in 2015, aged 29, while a 29-year-old Jordan will do the same off the boot in 2027, scoring tries aplenty while developing the skills to be the last line of defence. Since 2021, Jordan has been the incumbent fullback for the Crusaders, so Razor will almost certainly look to him for leadership too.

31. Payton Spencer (NZ Sevens)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 23 years old

"Who is that?" well everybody, players who are yet to play an NPC match in 2023, will almost inevitably feature in the 2027 Rugby World Cup. Names to be tossed around include Tahlor Cahill, Ajay Faleafaga, Cooper Flanders, but Payton Spencer, currently on a two-year deal with the All Blacks' 7s side, has the makings of a future star, should he put his mind to it. Spencer was also eligible for the NZ U20's in 2023, but wasn't considered due to injury.

Spencer's father, Carlos, played 35 tests from 1994-2004, so the pedigree is there. While Zarn Sullivan is the hot prospect right now, Ruben Love is preferred as a 10/15 cover by national selectors, meaning the backup option at 15 is likely to be a younger option. Spencer, a living highlight reel, would be of proper World Cup age, at 23 in 2027; while he'd be the youngest player in the squad. The biggest question is that which Super Rugby team will pick him?

32. Macca Springer (Crusaders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 24 years old

If there's anything to gain out of watching the world's best rugby teams to see trends; it's insight into the direction the game is headed. France and Ireland's constant shifting of the ball's location, is thanks to mobile forwards with hands that can quickly clean rucks, as well as the use of wingers in open play, who can distribute. The path towards this world was set the minute Jacques Brunel began playing a centre on the wing for France in 2018.

Leicester Fainga'anuku, would be left behind if this innovation continues, so enter Macca Springer, another big fella, but one who can be trusted to slot in as a distributor. At 1.90m and 93kg, Springer will be a left-winger with robust hits, but also the extra boot and ball-handling to give Razor, his Crusaders coach, a backline filled with ball-players. Mark Telea, Emoni Narawa and Caleb Clarke, will almost certainly be gone by 2027, leaving the door wide open for Springer, the star try-scorer of 2023's NZ U20s.

33. Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens (Highlanders)

Age (on 1st September, 2027): 26 years old

A new signing for the Highlanders ahead of 2024, Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, who will still be 26 in 2027, is set to be deployed in the 14 jersey as Connor Garden-Bachop and Sam Gilbert remain options for the team. As a natural fullback, but one with a wicked step, Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens' potential has always been there and now that the game time is about to pop up, he will be the Kiwi version of Damian Penaud.

With the swagger to be a household name, my brother in-law's former basketball teammate, Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, is certain to be the star try-scorer of the All Blacks in 2027. By age 19, he had the boot, tackle and awareness to take Taranaki to a Ranfurly Shield win. By age 26, he could easily be one of the best wingers in the world. With Springer providing power on the left wing, Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens will provide the agility on the right wing.

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