Three-time Rugby World Cup champions New Zealand have named a 36-man squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship.
Featuring five debutants, the squad is a mixture of experience and youth and is a real indicator as to how Ian Foster’s squad will look come to the Rugby World Cup.
The five debutants are prop Tamaiti Williams, backrow Samipeni Finau, halfback Cam Roigard, centre Dallas McLeod and outside back Emoni Narawa.
Congratulating the debutants, head coach Ian Foster said: “This is 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.”
Also joining the squad is Chiefs fullback Shaun Stevenson who is included as injury cover for Blues winger Mark Telea.
In terms of players not considered due to injury, the following are the most notable absentees: Angus Ta’avao, Ethan Blackadder, Cullen Grace, David Havili, Joe Moody, George Bower, Patrick Tuipulotu, Quinn Tupaea, Sevu Reece, TJ Perenara.
“We are very excited about the group we have selected,” Foster said. “The Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship is a vital piece in our preparation for the World Cup later in the year. It’s a key opportunity to get our game ready so we can enter the global tournament with confidence.” Foster said.
The head coach also confirmed that Sam Cane would continue in his role as captain of the squad, “Sam has proven himself as a great leader of our team despite having had a disrupted couple of seasons leading into this one. We have total belief that he is the right man to lead us.”
The squad in full is as follows:
Codie Taylor (32, Crusaders / Canterbury, 76)
Dane Coles (36, Hurricanes / Wellington, 84)
Samisoni Taukei’aho (25, Chiefs / Waikato, 24)
Ethan de Groot (24, Highlanders / Southland, 13)
Fletcher Newell (23, Crusaders / Canterbury, 6)
Nepo Laulala (31, Blues / Counties Manukau, 45)
Ofa Tu’ungafasi (31, Blues / Northland, 50)
Tamaiti Williams (22, Crusaders / Canterbury, *)
Tyrel Lomax (27, Hurricanes / Tasman, 23)
Brodie Retallick (32, Chiefs / Hawkes Bay, 100)
Josh Lord (22, Chiefs / Taranaki, 2)
Samuel Whitelock (34, Crusaders / Canterbury, 143)
Scott Barrett (29, Crusaders / Taranaki, 58)
Tupou Vaa’i (23, Chiefs / Taranaki, 18)
Ardie Savea (29, Hurricanes / Wellington, 70)
Dalton Papali’i (25, Blues / Counties Manukau, 22)
Luke Jacobson (26, Chiefs / Waikato, 12)
Sam Cane (captain) (31, Chiefs / Bay of Plenty, 86)
Samipeni Finau (24, Chiefs / Waikato, *)
Shannon Frizell (29, Highlanders / Tasman, 25)
Aaron Smith (34, Highlanders / Manawatu, 114)
Finlay Christie (27, Blues / Tasman, 14)
Cam Roigard (22, Hurricanes / Counties Manukau, *)
Beauden Barrett (32, Blues / Taranaki, 112)
Damian McKenzie (28, Chiefs / Waikato, 40)
Richie Mo’unga (29, Crusaders / Canterbury, 44)
Anton Lienert-Brown (28, Chiefs / Waikato, 60)
Jordie Barrett (26, Hurricanes / Taranaki, 48)
Rieko Ioane (26, Blues / Auckland, 59)
Braydon Ennor (25, Crusaders / Canterbury, 6)
Dallas McLeod (24, Crusaders / Canterbury, *)
Caleb Clarke (24, Blues / Auckland, 15)
Emoni Narawa (23, Chiefs / Bay of Plenty, *)
Leicester Fainga’anuku (23, Crusaders / Tasman, 2)
Mark Telea (26, Blues / North Harbour, 2)
Will Jordan (25, Crusaders / Tasman, 21)
The All Blacks will face Argentina and Australia away whilst welcoming the Springboks to Auckland in the condensed championship.
In full their Rugby Championship fixture reads as:
WEEK 1 vs. ARGENTINA. Saturday 8 July, 4:10PM (7:10AM, Sunday 9 July NZT), Estadio Malvinas, MENDOZA
WEEK 2 vs. SOUTH AFRICA. Saturday 15 July, 7.05PM, Go Media Stadium Mt Smart, AUCKLANDWEEK 3 vs. AUSTRALIA. Saturday 29 July, 7.45PM (9:45PM NZT), Melbourne Cricket Ground, MELBOURNE
WEEK 4 vs. AUSTRALIA. Saturday 5 August, 2.35PM, Forsyth Barr Stadium, DUNEDIN