Steve Hansen has announced a 39-man squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship competition which pits the All Blacks against Australia, South Africa and Argentina.
The competition will provide some ideal preparation for the World Cup which begins in September and because of the Japan tournament, the Rugby Championship will be shortened to just three rounds, although the All Blacks will play a second Bledisloe Cup clash with the Wallabies.
Hansen has included four uncapped players in his squad and these include Crusaders utility back 21-year-old Braydon Ennor. Ennor has played 15 times for Scott Robertson’s side this season in what is his debut season in Super Rugby. He can play centre, fullback and wing.
Josh Ioane (no relation to Rieko or Akira) made his debut for the Hurricanes in 2018 and continued his rise in 2019 by nailing down the starting out-half spot. The 23-year-old’s composure and running skills make him an exciting prospect.
22-year-old flanker Luke Jacobson has also been included. The Chiefs man captained the New Zealand U20s in 2017 and has been included after some standout performances this season.
The final uncapped player included is Crusaders winger Sevu Reece. The 22-year-old has been in scintillating form this season and most recently scored a crucial try in his side’s victory over the Hurricanes at the weekend. He topped the regular season try-scoring table with 13 tries, as well as 109 carries and 34 clean breaks, and was named the Crusaders Rookie of the Year.
“On behalf of the selectors, we want to congratulate the four new All Blacks named today – Luke, Josh, Braydon and Sevu,” Hansen said.
“They’ve all performed to very high levels this year and played some outstanding rugby. It’s a special time being named in the All Blacks for the first time and they and their families can be proud of what they’ve achieved. We also congratulate the returning All Blacks and commiserate with those players who haven’t been named. As always, history has shown us opportunities will arise.”
All Blacks Rugby Championship Squad
Asafo Aumua (22, Hurricanes / Wellington, uncapped)
Dane Coles (32, Hurricanes / Wellington, 60)
Liam Coltman (29, Highlanders / Otago, 4)
Codie Taylor (28, Crusaders / Canterbury, 41)
Owen Franks (31, Crusaders / Canterbury, 106)
Nepo Laulala (27, Chiefs / Counties Manukau, 17)
Joe Moody (30, Crusaders /Canterbury, 37)
Atu Moli (24, Chiefs / Tasman, uncapped)
Angus Ta’avao (29, Chiefs / Taranaki, 3)
Karl Tu’inukuafe (26, Blues / North Harbour, 13)
Ofa Tuungafasi (27, Blues / Auckland, 26)
Brodie Retallick (28, Chiefs / Hawke’s Bay, 75)
Patrick Tuipulotu (26, Blues / Auckland, 21)
Samuel Whitelock (30, Crusaders / Canterbury, 108)
Jackson Hemopo (25, Highlanders / Manawatu,3)
Sam Cane (27, Chiefs / Bay of Plenty, 60)
Vaea Fifita (27, Hurricanes / Wellington, 9)
Shannon Frizell (25, Highlanders / Tasman, 4)
Luke Jacobson (22, Chiefs / Waikato, new cap)
Dalton Papalii (21, Blues / Auckland, 2)
Kieran Read (33, Crusaders / Counties Manukau, 118) — Captain
Ardie Savea (25, Hurricanes / Wellington, 35)
Matt Todd (31, Crusaders / Canterbury, 17)
TJ Perenara (27, Hurricanes / Wellington, 55)
Aaron Smith (30, Highlanders / Manawatu, 82)
Brad Weber (28, Chiefs / Hawke’s Bay, 1)
Beauden Barrett (28, Hurricanes / Taranaki, 73)
Josh Ioane (23, Highlanders / Otago, new cap)
Richie Mo’unga (25, Crusaders / Canterbury, 9)
Jack Goodhue (24, Crusaders / Northland, 7)
Ngani Laumape (26, Hurricanes / Manawatu, 10)
Anton Lienert-Brown (24, Chiefs / Waikato, 33)
Sonny Bill Williams (33, Blues / Counties Manukau, 51)
Braydon Ennor (21, Crusaders / Canterbury, new cap)
Jordie Barrett (22, Hurricanes / Taranaki, 9)
George Bridge (24, Crusaders / Canterbury, 1)
Rieko Ioane (22, Blues / Auckland, 24)
Sevu Reece (22, Crusaders / Waikato, new cap)
Ben Smith (33, Highlanders /Otago, 76)
Investec Rugby Championship – All Blacks Tests
1. vs. ARGENTINA. Saturday 20 July, 3.05PM (6.05AM, Sunday 21 July NZT), Jose Amalfitani Stadium (Estadio Velez Sarsfield), BUENOS AIRES
2. vs. SOUTH AFRICA. Saturday 27 July, 7.35PM, Westpac Stadium, WELLINGTON
3. vs. AUSTRALIA. Saturday 10 August, 6.00PM (11.00PM NZT), Optus Stadium, PERTH
Second Bledisloe Cup Test
4. vs. AUSTRALIA. Saturday 17 August, 7.35PM, Eden Park, AUCKLAND