All Blacks squad named for Samoa, Investec Rugby Championship and extra Bledisloe Test

Jun 21 • General News, International, New Zealand • 2112 Views • Comments Off on All Blacks squad named for Samoa, Investec Rugby Championship and extra Bledisloe Test

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Five new All Blacks selected for first campaign of 2015    

The All Blacks squad for the Samoa Test, Investec Rugby Championship and extra Bledisloe Cup Test has been announced today by All Blacks selectors Steve Hansen, Ian Foster and Grant Fox, with the selectors unveiling an exciting mix of experienced players and new, young talent.
The key feature of the 41-man strong squad is the selection of five new All Blacks: Crusaders and Canterbury hooker Codie Taylor, Hurricanes and Taranaki lock James Broadhurst, Highlanders and Southland first five-eighth Lima Sopoaga, Highlanders and Taranaki winger Waisake Naholo; and Hurricanes and Manawatu fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder.
The full squad is as follows: (with Investec Super Rugby and provincial teams and Test caps. * indicates a new All Black).
Forwards:
Hookers

Dane Coles – Hurricanes / Wellington (27)

Hikawera Elliot – Chiefs / Poverty Bay (3)

Keven Mealamu – Blues / Auckland (123)

Codie Taylor – Crusaders / Canterbury *
Props

Wyatt Crockett – Crusaders / Canterbury (27)

Charlie Faumuina – Blues / Auckland (20)

Ben Franks – Hurricanes / Hawke’s Bay (31)

Owen Franks – Crusaders / Canterbury (57)

Joe Moody – Crusaders / Canterbury (8)

Tony Woodcock – Blues /North Harbour (110)
Locks

James Broadhurst – Hurricanes / Taranaki *

Brodie Retallick – Chiefs / Bay of Plenty (36)

Luke Romano – Crusaders / Canterbury (17)

Jeremy Thrush – Hurricanes / Wellington (11)

Samuel Whitelock – Crusaders / Canterbury (62)
Loose forwards

Sam Cane – Chiefs / Bay of Plenty (22)

Jerome Kaino – Blues /Auckland (56)

Richie McCaw (captain) – Crusaders / Canterbury (137)

Liam Messam – Chiefs / Waikato (40)

Kieran Read – Crusaders / Canterbury (72)

Matt Todd – Crusaders / Canterbury (2)

Victor Vito – Hurricanes / Wellington (26)
Backs:
Halfbacks

Tawera Kerr-Barlow – Chiefs / Waikato (15)

TJ Perenara – Hurricanes / Wellington (11)

Aaron Smith – Highlanders / Manawatu (38)
First five-eighths

Beauden Barrett – Hurricanes / Taranaki (28)

Daniel Carter – Crusaders / Canterbury (102)

Colin Slade – Crusaders /Canterbury (17)

Lima Sopoaga – Highlanders / Southland *
Midfielders

Ryan Crotty – Crusaders / Canterbury (13)

Malakai Fekitoa – Highlanders / Auckland (8)

Ma’a Nonu – Hurricanes / Wellington (94)

Conrad Smith – Hurricanes / Wellington (85)

Sonny Bill Williams – Chiefs / Counties Manukau (23)
Outside backs

Israel Dagg – Crusaders /Hawke’s Bay (46)

Cory Jane – Hurricanes / Wellington (48)

Nehe Milner-Skudder – Hurricanes / Manawatu *

Waisake Naholo – Highlanders / Taranaki *

Charles Piutau – Blues /Auckland (14)

Julian Savea – Hurricanes / Wellington (33)

Ben Smith – Highlanders / Otago (38)
Meanwhile, Crusaders and Canterbury prop Nepo Laulala has also been named as an injury replacement for Charlie Faumuina, who has a neck injury, but is expected to return to rugby near the end of The Rugby Championship. 26-Test All Black and Crusaders and Canterbury halfback Andy Ellis has also been named as a replacement player for Tawera Kerr-Barlow who will be released to play some games until he is eeady to return to international duty.
Players not considered for selection due to injury were halfback Augustine Pulu, first five-eighth Aaron Cruden, hooker Nathan Harris, loose forward Stephen Luatua and lock Patrick Tuipulotu.
The squad is made up of 22 forwards (three hookers, six props, five locks and seven loose forwards) and 19 backs (three halfbacks, four first five-eighths, five midfielders and seven outside backs) and will again be captained by All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw.
All New Zealand’s Investec Super Rugby teams are represented with five Highlanders players, 13 Crusaders, 12 Hurricanes, six Chiefs and five Blues, while 11 ITM Cup and a Heartland Championship province are represented, led by Canterbury (13 players) with Wellington (eight); Auckland (five), Taranaki (three), Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu (two each); and North Harbour, Counties Manukau, Otago and Poverty Bay (one each).
The All Blacks squad boasts an average age of 27 and the unveiling of the five new All Blacks continues what has been a successful hallmark of the current All Blacks selection panel, with 33 new players now introduced to the All Blacks in the last four seasons.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “The selectors would like to congratulate those new All Blacks we have named today. It is always a proud moment when a player is named in the All Blacks for the first time and they have all worked incredibly hard to get here.
“As is always the case with squad selections, we also had to leave out some players who are unlucky not to be selected. They will get further opportunities to stake their claims in the Maori All Blacks and Barbarians sides which play next month.
“We have selected a large squad of 41 players, partly through necessity, with two New Zealand teams still involved in the Super Rugby competition. But, more importantly, it also gives us the chance to work with some athletes we haven’t worked with before and see how they cope at Test level. This will allow us to make better decisions when it comes to selecting our Rugby World Cup team in August. I would like to thank New Zealand Rugby and the Board for allowing us to pick a squad of this size.”
Hansen said 2015 was going to be another exciting year for All Blacks rugby, with winning the Rugby World Cup and the Bledisloe Cup the two major priorities for the year.
“As always, our planning is about today, tomorrow and the future. But our main priority now will be to get this group functioning as its own team as quickly as possible. With only five games before the Rugby World Cup, it’s important that we get game plans and other aspects of our environment embedded as quickly as possible.”
Hansen said the “immediate focus” was preparing for the historic Samoan Test in Apia on 8 July.
“We are looking forward to taking on that particular challenge and we know it will be a passionate Samoan side and a pretty special occasion.”
Hansen confirmed the team to play Samoa would not include any players from any New Zealand teams which made it through to the Super Rugby Final.
“It may even mean we possibly have to bring in some extra players in certain positions, but we will wait and see how the Super Rugby finals unfold.
“Following the Samoa Test, Argentina, South Africa and Australia will again bring their own unique strengths to each contest and we look forward to playing them over the weeks ahead.”
The All Blacks squad will assemble on Auckland’s North Shore on Wednesday this week for a three-day camp minus the 18 players in the Hurricanes and Highlanders, who will be preparing for this weekend’s Super Rugby semifinal matches. Following the camp this week, the All Blacks will re-assemble in Auckland on Wednesday 1 July to prepare for the Test against Samoa.
The new All Blacks – mini biographies

JAMES BROADHURST is a hard-working lock who supports his team with power in the engine room and an impressive habit of stealing the ball off his opponents. Broadhurst first pulled on a black jersey as a New Zealand Under 19 representative, in 2006, and was then selected for the 2007 New Zealand Under 21 side; both teams included a number of future All Blacks. After several solid seasons of provincial rugby, he was a vital part of the Taranaki team that secured the ITM Cup Premiership title in 2014. That form has carried over into the Hurricanes 2015 Investec Super Rugby season, where he has impressed with his athleticism, consistency and technical ability.
NEHE MILNER-SKUDDER is a brilliant attacking runner who has matured into an outstanding player in recent years. One of the form fullbacks of the 2014 ITM Cup, Milner-Skudder also played for the Maori All Blacks that year and made his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes this year. Milner-Skudder’s skills and speed earned him comparisons with Hurricanes legend – and his childhood idol – Christian Cullen. Milner-Skudder has a devastating sidestep, honed on the touch field, a sport in which he represented New Zealand. Milner-Skudder has two All Blacks relatives: his cousin Buff Milner and uncle George Skudder each played a Test in 1969 and 1970 respectively.
WAISAKE NAHOLO is a formidable line breaker, and possesses the speed, power and an x-factor well-suited to modern rugby. Born in Fiji, he made his provincial debut for Wanganui in the 2009 Heartland Championship, aged 18 while still at Wanganui City College. In 2011 he was selected in the New Zealand Under 20 side for the Junior World Championship. Naholo was then called into the All Blacks Sevens squad in 2012. In 2014, he played in every match and scored nine tries for the ITM Cup Premiership-winning Taranaki side. He has thrived at the Highlanders and has scored ten tries so far in this year’s Super Rugby competition.
LIMA SOPOAGA is an extremely skilful first five-eighth who was identified as a rugby talent at a young age. Wellington-born and raised, Sopoaga accepted an offer from the Highlanders in 2011. The same year he was part of the New Zealand Under 20 team’s Junior World Championship-winning campaign in Italy. Injuries affected his 2012 and 2013 Super Rugby seasons, but in 2014 and 2015, regular game time suited the young playmaker along with time spent outside All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith, and Sopoaga built a reputation for taking the ball to the line, and for creating exciting opportunities for his powerful wings.
CODIE TAYLOR. An impressive young hooker with surprising speed and a nose for the tryline, hooker Codie Taylor’s long apprenticeship at the Crusaders has earned dividends. Taylor, who was part of the JWC-winning New Zealand Under 20 team in 2011 has been selected on the back of solid performances for his Super team, Canterbury and the Maori All Blacks. Originally from Levin, Taylor made his ITM Cup debut with Canterbury in 2012 and his Investec Super Rugby debut in 2013 but injuries limited his opportunities. However, the powerful scrummager, who is equally adept in rucks and in the loose, cemented a place over the next two seasons.
Replacement player
NEPO LAULALA. Tighthead specialist Nepo Laulala has the right attitude and commitment to match his natural talent. A powerful prop and solid defender, Laulala has benefitted from working alongside three All Blacks props in the Crusaders environment, since making his Investec Super Rugby debut in 2013 after impressive provincial seasons for Canterbury. He was born in Samoa and educated at Auckland’s Wesley College – and there’s a fair bit of rugby talent in the Laulala family: older brother Casey was an All Black, while younger brother Luteru is in the 2015 New Zealand Under 20 side.
All Blacks Tests – Samoa, The Investec Rugby Championship and extra Bledisloe Cup Test
Samoa Test
1. Samoa (3.00PM, Wednesday 8 July, Apia Park, Apia)
Investec Rugby Championship
1. Argentina (7.35PM, Friday 17 July, AMI Stadium Addington, Christchurch)

2. South Africa (8.00PM, Saturday 25 July Emirates Airline (formerly Ellis) Park, Johannesburg)

3. Australia (8.05PM, Saturday 8 August, ANZ Stadium, Sydney)
Extra Bledisloe Cup Test
1. Australia (7.35PM, Saturday 16 August, Eden Park, Auckland)
   

         

     

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