Classic All Blacks match returns
NEWS: Conrad Smith and Jerome Kaino are just two of the well-decorated names that have been included in the Classic All Blacks squad for a one-off fixture next month.
The Classic All Blacks will take on Spain at the Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on May 21 – a match that was originally set to take place two years earlier but had to be postponed twice due to the global pandemic.
Eighteen players were unveiled on Thursday for the historic fixture, including four All Blacks from the World Cup-winning squad of 2011: centre Smith, flank Kaino, hooker Corey Flynn and flyhalf Stephen Donald.
Daniel Carter – another member of the 2011 squad – will act as a ‘rugby ambassador’ for the fixture while Tana Umaga takes the reins as head coach and 1987 World Cup-winner Sean Fitzpatrick is the patron of the side.
Hooker Flynn has been included alongside the recently retired Nathan Harris as the sole front-rowers named in the initial squad. Flynn played 15 matches for the All Blacks and 150 for the Crusaders before going on to represent Toulouse and Glasgow in his twilight years while Harris hung up his boots at the end of last year due to ongoing injury frustrations.
Current Pau representative Daniel Ramsay is one of four uncapped players in the squad and will be joined by three-test All Black and current Taranaki assistant coach Jarrad Hoeata as second rowers named for the match.
Two of the other uncapped players named, Luke Braid and Nick Crosswell, could suit up in the loose forwards alongside Chris Masoe and All Blacks legend Kaino, who is currently a coach with Toulouse in the Top 14.
Alby Mathewson – who has represented 12 first-class teams – is the only named halfback in the squad.
Donald is joined by former Chiefs and All Blacks teammate Mike Delany as the team’s flyhalves – although Luke McAlister could also feature in the role.
Conrad Smith is the big name amongst the midfielders but Sam Tuituipou built a cult following both sides of the equator with his hard-hitting defence.
In the outside backs, Rico and Hosea Gear are joined by Andre Taylor – a man many consider unlucky to have never cracked the New Zealand national squad.
Spain recently qualified for the Rugby World Cup for the first time since 1999 and will join South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and likely Tonga in Pool B in France next year.
The match between Spain and the Classic All Blacks will kick off at the late time of 8:45 pm at the home stadium of the Atletico Madrid football club.
Classic All Blacks squad: Chris Masoe, Corey Flynn, Jerome Kaino, Luke Braid, Mike Delany, Nathan Harris, Rudi Wulf, Sam Tuitupou, Luke McAlister, Hosea Gear, Rico Gear, Stephen Donald, Conrad Smith, Jarrod Hoeata, Alby Mathewson, Nick Crosswell, Daniel Ramsay, Andre Taylor.
Coach: Tana Umaga
Patron: Sean Fitzpatrick
Ambassador: Daniel Carter