Shock omissions from Foster's All Blacks squad
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: The All Blacks squad for the three-match test series against Ireland has been named in Auckland.
All Blacks head coach Ian Foster and his selectors picked six uncapped players in the 38-man squad.
After securing an exemption from World Rugby earlier this year, as expected uncapped scrumhalf Folau Fakatava was named as one of three No 9s in the squad alongside Aaron Smith and Finlay Christie.
TJ Perenara and Brad Weber were notable omissions, but they are widely expected to be named in the Maori All Blacks squad.
After losing Joe Moody to a season-ending knee injury, further cover was needed up front and uncapped Chiefs prop Aidan Ross has been drafted in to take one of seven prop selections. Ross joins the three Blues props Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tuungafasi, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Chiefs teammate Angus Ta’avao and Crusader George Bower.
At hooker, Dane Coles has retained a place alongside Codie Taylor and Samisoni Taukei’aho.
Chiefs loose forward Pita Gus Sowakula beat out the likes of Luke Jacobson to secure selection in the crowded backrow alongside captain Sam Cane, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu and Akira Ioane.
Blues fullback Stephen Perofeta has been named as one of three flyhalves alongside the star pair of Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga, while Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was the only newcomer to the midfield stocks.
Jack Goodhue returns to the squad following his long injury layoff to provide experience to the midfield group also comprising of David Havili, Rieko Ioane and Quinn Tupaea.
Out wide, in-form Crusaders wing Leicester Fainga’anuku has been selected alongside Will Jordan, Jordie Barrett, Caleb Clarke, and Sevu Reece.
Of the six new selections, versatility has been a theme with Perofeta offering cover at flyhalf and fullback, Sowakula at blindside and No.8 while Fainga’anuku can play centre as well as wing.
The other notable omissions are Highlanders prop Ethan de Groot, Alex Hodgman of the Blues, Braydon Ennor and George Bridge of the Crusaders, Hurricanes front row pair Tyrel Lomax and Asafo Aumua, and flank Shannon Frizell all who played for the All Blacks last year.
Ethan Blackadder and Anton Lienert-Brown were ruled out of contention with injuries.
“We want to congratulate the six new caps on what will be a very special day for them and their families who I’m sure will be extremely proud of their achievements,” Foster said.
“We have a new group of exciting players who will be keen to make a difference in the All Black jersey.
“We would also like to congratulate Sam Cane on resuming his role as All Black captain after injuries kept him sidelined for much of last year.
“It’s also great to see Jack Goodhue back after his knee injury in 2020.
“We also know there’s disappointment for those players not selected and we feel for them at this time.
“You can often judge the strength of the All Blacks by the quality of the men who have missed out.”
New Zealand squad: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Scott Barrett, George Bower, Sam Cane (capt), Finlay Christie, Caleb Clarke, Dane Coles, Jack Goodhue, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Folau Fakatava, David Havili, Akira Ioane, Reiko Ioane, Will Jordan, Nepo IRLLaulala, Josh Lord, Richie Mo’unga, Dalton Papalii, Stephen Perofeta, Sevu Reece, Brodie Retallick, Aidan Ross, Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Hoskins Sotutu, Pita Gus Sowakula, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Codie Taylor, Angus Ta’avao, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Quinn Tupaea, Ofa Tuungafasi, Sam Whitelock, Tupo Vaa’i.
*Additional Source: Rugbypass