Four rookies to tour with All Blacks

Sun, 22 Oct 2017 22:12

SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: All Black coach Steve Hansen selected four uncapped players in the squad for the year-end tour.

New Zealand will play Tests against France, Scotland and Wales - as well as matches against the Barbarians and a France XV.

The uncapped players are dynamic 20-year-old Wellington hooker Asafo Aumua; skilful North Harbour outside back Matt Duffie; physical Tasman prop Tim Perry and talented Northland midfielder Jack Goodhue.

The latter two trained with the All Blacks squad earlier this year.

Several players weren't considered for selection for the tour due to long-term injury and other reasons - including hooker Liam Coltman, props Owen Franks and Joe Moody, lock Brodie Retallick, and outside backs Jordie Barrett, Israel Dagg, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Ben Smith.

"The selectors would firstly like to congratulate all players selected for the year-end tour, especially Asafo, Tim, Matt and Jack who are named in an All Blacks squad for the first time," Hansen said.

"We have a talented squad made up of experienced players and a large group of newer All Blacks and this tour will be another exciting opportunity for them."

Hansen said the All Blacks had three major aims they wanted to achieve on the tour.

"Firstly, we want to play attractive rugby that we can be proud of and, of course, winning is part of that. But, just as importantly, will be re-establishing the processes that allow us to do this.

"Secondly, we have another opportunity to expose our young players to Test rugby.

"Whilst we've won the Rugby Championship and retained the Bledisloe Cup, the last couple of months has also enabled us to introduce that large group of younger players to international rugby and, in doing so, grow their understanding of what's required to prepare and perform at the highest level.

"Adding the four new players to our squad will again allow us to expose more young talent to the highest level, where, history tells us, players grow and get better. So this tour will complete a season of building depth and experience, which in the long run, will only benefit the team.

"The make-up of the Tour, with three Tests against France, Scotland and Wales, as well as matches against the Barbarians and the French XV, means we have the opportunity to come up against a range of different opposition and playing styles which will be exciting and a great learning experience.

"Our third aim is to thoroughly enjoy touring the Northern Hemisphere and its different cultures.  We want to engage as much as we can with the people in the countries we visit and be great ambassadors for the game of rugby and New Zealand."

Hansen said six All Blacks, who have carried heavy workloads this year, will not play the first match of the tour, against the Barbarians.

Instead, they will spend a few more days at home to freshen up and join the All Blacks touring squad later next week.

Those players are captain Kieran Read, hooker Dane Coles, prop Wyatt Crockett, lock Samuel Whitelock, and midfielders Anton Lienert-Brown and Sonny Bill Williams.

As well as the 37-man squad, the All Blacks selectors have also announced that five additional players will play for the Barbarians in the first match of the tour and then assemble with the All Blacks for the French leg of the tour.

Those players are Otago loose forward Dillon Hunt, Waikato prop Atunaisa Moli, who has trained with the All Blacks squad this year, Canterbury halfback Mitchell Drummond and his provincial teammate Richie Mo'unga, who was called into the All Blacks squad in Brisbane last week as cover; and Canterbury and two-Test All Blacks lock Dominic Bird.

The makeup of the 37-man squad sees 21 forwards selected (four hookers, six props, four locks and seven loose forwards) and 16 backs (three scrumhalves, two flyhalves, five midfielders and six outside backs) and has a total of 954 Test caps experience, an average of 26 Test caps per player and average age of 25.

New Zealand squad:

Forwards: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Nathan Harris, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Kane Hames, Nepo Laulala, Tim Perry, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read (captain), Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Matt Todd.

Backs: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Thomas Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Lima Sopoaga, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, David Havili, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, Damian McKenzie, Waisake Naholo, Seta Tamanivalu.

Schedule:
Saturday, November 4: v Barbarians - Twickenham, LONDON; Kick-off: 14.30 (02.30, Sunday, November 5 NZ time)
Saturday, November 11: v France - , Stade de France, PARIS; Kick-off: 20.4 (07.45, Sunday, November 12 NZ time)
Tuesday, November 14: v France XV - Parc Olympique Lyonnais, LYON; Kick-off 18.55 (05.55, Wednesday, November 15 NZ time)
Saturday, November 18: v Scotland - Murrayfield, EDINBURGH; Kick-off: 15.00 (03.00, Sunday, November 19 NZ time)
Saturday, November 25: v Wales - Millennium Stadium, CARDIFF; Kick-off: 17.15 (05.15, Sunday, November 26 NZ time)