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Squire or Fifita come 2019?

Newshub logoNewshub 14/09/2017 Ross Karl

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OPINION: Get out your crystal ball. Come 2019, who will be the All Blacks blindside flanker?

If he hasn't already, Jerome Kaino should be passed by Liam Squire and Vaea Fifita.

The selectors were saved from showing their hand this week by a shoulder complaint from Fifita and Kaino playing for Auckland midweek.

It probably wouldn't have changed anything if they were available. You would have to think Squire is ahead right now. He's been around the squad for longer and probably gets through more work around the field than Fifita.

Fifita probably has the greater X-factor. Squire is quick for a big man, but Fifita is something else.

Squire is 26 and Fifita is 25, so they both have age on their side come 2019. Feedback from their teammates suggests they are both very keen to learn and pick things up quickly. Their impact this season for the All Blacks has been eye-catching.

Both are rugged, athletic, ball-carrying, hard-hitting players, who are athletic lineout options. It's an embarrassment of riches. Even better, they have two years to develop further, helped by having Kaino to pass on advice.

What makes it more interesting is the All Blacks aren't carrying a blindside flanker on the bench. Ardie Savea is their impact guy. Unless Kieran Read is injured, it's unlikely Squire and Fifita will fit into the same side. So, it's one or the other.

What a competition it will be by the next World Cup. By then Squire versus Fifita could be a 'Spencer or Mehrtens?' style debate.

Ross Karl is Newshub's rugby reporter.

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