The New Zealand All Blacks have named an impressive near full strength squad for their forthcoming European tour which includes an Autumn test against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday 24 November, kick-off 14:00 .
The All Blacks squad will be led by 120-Test All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw, who will be making his tenth tour to Europe, and Dan Carter and Kieran Read are Vice-Captains.
The squad features four new All Blacks, all of whom have spent some time in the All Blacks environment this year. They are the Canterbury and Crusaders trio of prop Joe Moody, 22-year-old lock Dominic Bird and 22-year-old loose forward Luke Whitelock, who joins his brother Sam in the All Blacks. Counties Manukau and Blues winger Frank Halai, who was part of the All Blacks wider training group this year, is also picked in an official squad for the first time.
The squad also features the return of uncapped Wellington halfback TJ Perenara, who was named in the Investec Rugby Championship squad but had to withdraw after suffering a stress fracture. His Wellington team mate Cory Jane is also in the squad after his late withdrawal from the Test team to play Australia on the weekend.
Canterbury lock Luke Romano, who is close to full recovery from his adductor tendon injury, has also been selected. Canterbury midfielder Ryan Crotty also returns to the All Blacks after making his whirlwind Test debut against Australia in August after being called late into the side as injury cover.
One player was unavailable for selection due to injury: Canterbury loose forward Matt Todd (chest).
The positional split for the squad sees 20 forwards selected (three hookers, six props, five locks and six loose forwards) and 16 backs (three halfbacks, four first five-eighths, three midfielders and six outside backs) and the squad has a combined total of 1,116 Test caps experience.
The squad is made up of five Highlanders players, 13 Crusaders, seven Hurricanes, five Chiefs and six Blues while provincial representation is led by Canterbury (12 players) with Wellington (six), Auckland (four), North Harbour, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu (two); and Counties Manukau and Otago (one).
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “The selectors would like to congratulate those players picked in the All Blacks for the first time. It is always a special moment for any rugby player in New Zealand and we know they have all worked hard to get here so it’s a proud moment for them and their families.”
Hansen said the All Blacks players and management were looking forward to the upcoming Tour and each of the Test matches would bring their own unique challenges.
“The aim of the Tour is to further develop our game structures, our skills sets and our individual players. We will be looking to use the Tour to take ourselves beyond where we are at the moment,” Hansen said.
The All Blacks selectors have also announced that an “apprentice” player will accompany the All Blacks on tour – 20-year-old Wellington loose forward Ardie Savea, the younger brother of All Black Julian Savea.
“We are continuing the scheme we started with the younger hookers who came into camp earlier this year, and, like them, the aim of the initiative is to give him exposure to all aspects of the All Blacks environment.”
The first part of the Tour will see 27 players head to Tokyo on Monday 28 October to prepare for the first Test against Japan on November 2, while nine players will head to Paris later in the week to start early preparations for the second Test against France. The group heading to France will be named following the All Blacks camp.
The All Blacks selectors, Head Coach Steve Hansen, Assistant Coach Ian Foster and former All Black Grant Fox have named their squad for the Test against Japan and Air New Zealand European Tour, with four new All Blacks selected.
The squad is as follows:
Dane Coles Wellington (11)
Andrew Hore Taranaki (81)
Keven Mealamu Auckland (108)
Wyatt Crockett Canterbury (20)
Charlie Faumuina Auckland (14)
Ben Franks Hawke’s Bay (29)
Owen Franks Canterbury (51)
Joe Moody Canterbury *
Tony Woodcock North Harbour (105)
Dominic Bird Canterbury *
Brodie Retallick Bay of Plenty (21)
Luke Romano Canterbury (15)
Jeremy Thrush Wellington (4)
Samuel Whitelock Canterbury (48)
Sam Cane Bay of Plenty (13)
Steven Luatua Auckland (8)
Richie McCaw – captain – Canterbury (120)
Liam Messam Waikato (26)
Kieran Read Canterbury (58)
Luke Whitelock Canterbury *
Tawera Kerr-Barlow Waikato (11)
TJ Perenara Wellington *
Aaron Smith Manawatu (22)
Beauden Barrett Taranaki (14)
Daniel Carter Canterbury (97)
Aaron Cruden Manawatu (26)
Tom Taylor Canterbury (2)
Ryan Crotty Canterbury (1)
Ma’a Nonu Wellington (85)
Francis Saili North Harbour (1)
Israel Dagg Hawke’s Bay (35)
Frank Halai Counties Manukau *
Cory Jane Wellington (43)
Charles Piutau Auckland (7)
Julian Savea Wellington (18)
Ben Smith Otago (22)
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