Curious case of Liam Squire: ABs' big World Cup mystery

Liam Squire with his Tasman teammates. Photo: Getty Images
Liam Squire with his Tasman teammates. Photo: Getty Images
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Will he or won't he? It's the question on the minds of All Blacks fans and pundits alike ahead of Wednesday's Rugby World Cup squad announcement.

If we're using recent form as a barometer, you can expect to hear Liam Squire's name among the 31 called out.

There had been little talk of Squire's Rugby World Cup prospects since All Blacks coach Steve Hansen revealed the loose forward had withdrawn from consideration for the Rugby Championship squad. However, the 28-year-old has turned more than a few heads in his early season performances for Tasman.

Form aside, the curious case remains: Will Squire make himself available for selection? There has been no word on exactly why he withdrew from consideration in the first place aside from feeling that he wasn't up to playing on the international stage.

Squire has not commented on his withdrawal and has been sheltered from the media since.

He spoke to Sky Sport after Tasman's 64-3 demolition of Manawatu today in which Squire had a dominant 80-minute performance, but was not quizzed about his future with the All Blacks.

"I just want to make the point there we were asked that a certain issue not be discussed in that interview. We'll respect that, it's his decision and he'll make that in the fullness of time," Sky commentator Tony Johnson clarified after the interview.

What has surely benefited Squire is the fact there has been no pressure on him to rush his decision.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has said he won't call Squire to ask him back, but would rather wait for Squire to call and say he is or isn't ready.

The All Blacks appear set on running Ardie Savea at blindside flanker, while Jackson Hemopo or Luke Jacobson can back up the role from the bench or in the wider squad.

Squire has proved his fitness and is in great form. Playing a shade under 50 minutes in each of the opening two rounds of the Mitre 10 Cup, he cruised through the full 80 against Manawatu while making 10 tackles, being active in the attack and scoring a try. It appears the match fitness is there and Savea successfully playing in the No 6 jersey takes a lot of performance pressure off Squire, who could return in the black jersey as an impact player off the bench.

Heading to Japan next season to take up a contract with the NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes, the opportunity is more than likely there for him to leave as part of a World Cup challenge. Whether or not he's ready to play at that level with the pressures of World Cup football will be revealed on Wednesday.

Saturday's Mitre 10 Cup matches:

Tasman beat Manawatu 64-3

Tasman cruised past Manawatu 64-3 in Blenheim. The Mako ran in 10 tries, with wing Jamie Spowart scoring a hat-trick. The win sees Tasman remain unbeaten and on top of the Premiership standings.

Auckland beat Bay of Plenty 19-13

Auckland took down Bay of Plenty in their Mitre 10 Cup match at Eden Park. The hosts ran in three tries, with fullback Salesi Rayasi bagging a double, and All Black Rieko Ioane adding another.

Counties Manukau v Waikato - 7.35pm

By Christopher Reive

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