VIDEO: What you need to know about the four new All Blacks
This past Monday was a pretty special time for four players across New Zealand, as NZ Rugby Union Chairman Brent Impey announced the All Black squad for next month’s tour to France, Wales and Scotland.
In an instant, dreams came true for Asafo Aumua from Wellington, Jack Goodhue from Northland, Matt Duffie from North Harbour and Tim Perry from Tasman as they all heard their names read out.
Here’s a few more facts about the players about to pull on the black jersey for the first time:
Just call this guy the Human Highlight Reel. The Wellington hooker has yet to play Super Rugby, having spent the season blasting his way to the rugby world’s consciousness via the World Champion NZ under-20 side and Mitre 10 Cup, and will most likely be unleashed on the French XV in the only midweek game of the tour. The All Blacks have curiously gone with four hookers in their squad, signalling that Aumua won’t be rushed into anything – but when he does get his chance he will be Avalon RFC’s first All Black since flanker Scott Waldrom made the end of year tour in 2008.
Duffie, who has been seen by many to be the potential successor to Ben Smith, is the second player this season to make his way to the All Blacks via the NRL alongside former Warrior Ngani Laumape. The 27-year-old spent six years at the Melbourne Storm, both in the under-20’s and first grade side, and was part of the 2012 Premiership winning side (although he missed the grand final with injury). He also earned one test cap for the Kiwis, before switching codes to play for the Blues and North Harbour in 2016.
There’s a pretty simple equation for success if you’re a rugby player on the fringes of the big time in NZ – get yourself in the Crusaders and you’ll go places. The Northland local had a huge season for the 2017 Super Rugby champs, forming part of an outstanding midfield and bagging seven tries. Goodhue managed to make his mark originally in the All Black Sevens and the Canterbury Mitre 10 Cup sides, before shifting back to his home town of Whangarei to play for Northland. It was a stroke of good luck for the Taniwha, who enjoyed one of their best seasons in years on the back of Goodhue’s impressive form.
29 is a pretty advanced age to be making your first appearance on the international stage, at least it is these days. But Tasman prop Tim Perry managed to engineer a career just at the right time – moving from Heartland Championship side Mid-Canterbury to the Tasman union just as they were on the cusp of breaking into being a consistent force in the NZ provincial game, then getting into the Crusaders just in time to win a Super Rugby championship this year. Out of all the new boys, Perry probably has the most likely route to a test start – Steve Hansen has shown to be more interchangeable with his props this season, starting the barely experienced Nepo Laulala and Kane Hames for the back end of the Rugby Championship.