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Four new faces in All Black Championship squad

RNZ, Wellington, July 2019

The New Faces: Luke Jacobson, Braydon Ennor, Josh Ioane and Sevu Reece. Photo: Photosport

Four New Caps have been named in the first All Blacks squad of the year, for tests against Argentina and South Africa in the Rugby Championship.

Chiefs loose forward Luke Jacobson, Highlanders first five-eighth Josh Ioane and Crusaders backs Braydon Ennor and Sevu Reece have been named in a 39 strong squad.

Notable omissions are winger Waisake Naholo, loose forward Liam Squire who has made himself unavailable for test rugby, hooker Nathan Harris and halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.

“Whilst recapturing the Rugby World Cup and the Bledisloe Cup are two of the end goals for the year, we have to deal with the here and now, which is getting ready to face two quality oppositions in Argentina and South Africa,” said coach Steve Hansen.

Reasons for large team

Hansen said there were many positives in being able to name a larger squad for the first two matches in the Rugby Championship.

“First and foremost, it allows us to pick a very strong squad for what will be a challenging first Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires, while at the same time giving most of the Crusaders players in the All Blacks a rest from what has been a very tough Investec Super Rugby Finals campaign.

“For the new players, it allows us to meet them for the first time, introduce them to our environment and grow their understanding of their game and our game at international level.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen (RNZ Picture by Liu Chen)

The Team

The All Blacks squad is made up of 23 forwards (four hookers, seven props, three locks, one utility forward and eight loose forwards) and 16 backs (three halfbacks, three first five-eighths, four midfielders, two utility backs and four outside backs).

Not considered for selection due to injury were Ryan Crotty, Scott Barrett, Tim Perry and Damian McKenzie.

The 39-strong squad is as follows (with age, Investec Super Rugby club, province and Test caps. New All Blacks in bold):

The full team

Forwards: Hookers: Asafo Aumua (22, Hurricanes/Wellington, uncapped); Dane Coles (32, Hurricanes/Wellington, 60); Liam Coltman (29, Highlanders/Otago, 4); Codie Taylor (28, Crusaders/Canterbury, 41); Props: 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); Locks: Brodie Retallick (28, Chiefs/Hawke’s Bay, 75); Patrick Tuipulotu (26, Blues/Auckland, 21); Samuel Whitelock (30, Crusaders/Canterbury, 108)

Utility Forward: Jackson Hemopo (25, Highlanders/Manawatu, 3); Loose Forwards: 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); Backs: Halfbacks: TJ Perenara (27, Hurricanes/Wellington, 55); Aaron Smith (30, Highlanders/Manawatu, 82); Brad Weber (28, Chiefs/Hawke’s Bay, 1); First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett (28, Hurricanes/Taranaki, 73); Josh Ioane (23, Highlanders/Otago, New Cap); Richie Mo’unga (25, Crusaders/Canterbury, 9); Midfielders: 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); Utility Backs: Braydon Ennor (21, Crusaders/Canterbury, New Cap); Jordie Barrett (22, Hurricanes/ Taranaki, 9); Outside Backs: 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).

Braydon Ennor: One of New Zealand Rugby’s bright, young prospects and with the ability to play wing, centre or fullback, 21-year-old Braydon Ennor stormed onto the provincial rugby scene in 2017 with a standout season for the championship Canterbury team, after earlier featuring for the champion New Zealand Under 20 side at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Georgia, where he played in four games, including the Final.

He was signed for the Crusaders for 2018-2019, playing 15 games in his debut Super season, before starring in 2019.

Josh Ioane: Auckland-born, exciting 23-year-old Josh Ioane travelled South to Dunedin in 2014 to study and played age-grade Otago rugby.

His composure and running skills caught the eye of the Highlanders coaches, who called him into the Highlanders wider training squad in December 2016, for pre-season training.

While he didn’t take the field in 2017, Ioane continued to develop his game and become accustomed to the higher level. He made his provincial debut later that year and eventual Super Rugby debut in 2018.

Luke Jacobson: 22-year-old loose forward Luke Jacobson has been on the national radar for several years as one of a trio of loose forward brothers making their mark in rugby. A driven and hard-working leader, Luke made the New Zealand Schools team in 2014 and in 2016 he made the New Zealand Under 20 team. The following year he captained the Under 20s to victory in Georgia and made his Waikato debut. He made his Investec Super Rugby debut in 2018, went onto captain Waikato in last year’s Mitre 10 Cup and was in outstanding form in 2019 as a punishing defender and smart with the ball in hand.

Sevu Reece: A standout on the wing for the Crusaders this year, 22-year-old Sevu Reece was a rugby and track and field schoolboy star in his Fiji homeland.

He moved to New Zealand in 2014 and his rugby rise continued when he was called into the Waikato squad for the 2016 Mitre 10 Cup.

In 2019 he was called into the Crusaders as an injury replacement and his pace and finishing saw him top the regular season try- scoring table with 13 tries.

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