Hansen bloods new All Blacks
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen has named the squad for the first two matches of the Rugby Championship against Argentina and South Africa.
The 39-strong squad includes four new All Blacks – Chiefs and Waikato loose forward Luke Jacobson, Highlanders and Otago flyhalf Josh Ioane and Crusaders and Canterbury back Braydon Ennor and Crusaders and Waikato outside back Sevu Reece.
“The four new All Blacks – Luke, Josh, Braydon and Sevu – have all performed to very high levels this year and played some outstanding rugby,” Hansen said.
“It’s a special time being named in the All Blacks for the first time.
“It’s really exciting bringing the team together and we’re all looking forward to starting the work towards this year’s goals.
“We’re going to try and do something that’s never been done before and that’s to win three World Cups in a row.
“However, that’s not a given. We’re going to have to be hungry for success and we’re going to have to work incredibly hard and smart to achieve this,” he said.
“Whilst recapturing the World Cup and the Bledisloe Cup are two of the end goals for the year, we have to deal with the here and now, which is getting ready to face two quality oppositions in Argentina and South Africa.”
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) July 2, 2019
Hansen said there were many positives in being able to name a larger squad for the first two matches in the Rugby Championship.
“First and foremost, it allows us to pick a very strong squad for what will be a challenging first Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires, while at the same time giving most of the Crusaders players in the All Blacks a rest from what has been a very tough Super Rugby play-off campaign.
“For the new players, it allows us to meet them for the first time, introduce them to our environment and grow their understanding of their game and our game at international level.
Hansen further added: “The challenge and the aim of the first two matches are not only to play winning rugby but attractive, exciting rugby. To do this, we’ll have to quickly reconnect the players from the various Super Rugby clubs back into the All Blacks’ ways. We will need to master our game by improving our execution. To do this, our skillsets and decision making will be our key focus.”
Hansen further said that the first two Rugby Championship matches, along with with the Maori All Blacks two matches against Fiji, would give the selectors an opportunity to see a large number of players performing at a higher level, prior to them naming a trimmed down squad of 34 for the Bledisloe Cup.
“Being a World Cup year, there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation from our many fans not only in New Zealand but also overseas,” Hansen said.
“The squad is really looking forward to our fans’ support at all our Tests this year.”
Not considered for selection due to injury: Ryan Crotty, Scott Barrett, Tim Perry and Damian McKenzie.
Unavailable for selection: Liam Squire has also made himself unavailable as he felt he wasn’t ready to return to international rugby at this stage.
The All Blacks squad is made up of 23 forwards (four hookers, seven props, three locks, one utility forward and eight loose forwards) and 16 backs (three halfbacks, three first five-eighths, four midfielders, two utility backs and four outside backs).
The squad is made up of six Blues players, eight Chiefs, eight Hurricanes, 11 Crusaders and six Highlanders while 13 of New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup provinces are represented, with eight Canterbury players, five from Wellington, four from Auckland, three each from Counties Manukau, Waikato Taranaki, Manawatu and Otago, two from Hawke’s Bay and Tasman while there is one player from Northland, North Harbour and Bay of Plenty.
The All Blacks squad (minus the Crusaders players) will assemble in Auckland on Wednesday for a pre-season camp, and again for four days next week, before flying to Argentina on Friday 12 July to prepare for the Test against the Pumas on Saturday, July 20.
New Zealand squad
Forwards: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Angus Ta’avao, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Jackson Hemopo, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Shannon Frizell, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Kieran Read (captain), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd.
Backs: Thomas Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Josh Ioane, Richie Mo’unga, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Braydon Ennor, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith.
All Black Rugby Championship fixtures
Saturday, July 20: v ARGENTINA, 15.05 (06.05, Sunday, July 21 NZ time), Jose Amalfitani Stadium (Estadio Velez Sarsfield), BUENOS AIRES
Saturday, July 27: v SOUTH AFRICA, 19.35, Westpac Stadium, WELLINGTON
Saturday, Augustus 10: v AUSTRALIA, 18.00 (23.00 NZ time), Optus Stadium, PERTH
Second Bledisloe Cup Test
Saturday, August 17: v AUSTRALIA, 19.35, Eden Park, AUCKLAND