Will Jordan, Caleb Clarke and Hoskins Sotutu are three of seven uncapped players who have been included in the All Blacks’ 35-man squad for the Rugby Championship.
Jordan, Clarke and Sotutu are joined by fellow rookies Alex Hodgman, Quinten Strange, Tupou Vaa’i and Cullen Grace in coach Ian Foster’s star-studded group.
As previous confirmed, Sam Cane will captain the squad that is made up of 20 forwards (three hookers, six props, four locks and seven loose forwards) and 15 backs (three halfbacks, two flyhalves, four centres, and six outside backs). Furthermore, the group is made up of 10 Blues players, six Chiefs, five Hurricanes, 11 Crusaders and three Highlanders,
Three players – prop Atu Moli, lock Scott Barrett and centre Ngani Laumape – weren’t considered due to injury, while veteran lock Brodie Retallick wasn’t in contention for selection because he is currently on a sabbatical with the Kobe Kobelco Steelers in Japan.
In naming the squad, All Blacks coach Ian Foster said: ‘We’re hugely excited at the calibre of the players selected for this All Blacks squad of 2020. It’s been a great process working through the selections and I’ve really enjoyed working with ‘Plums’ [John Plumtree] as part of the new selectors group.
‘The result is that we can now announce a team that is rich in experience and a little battle-hardened after the Rugby World Cup, but forward looking with the inclusion of a number of new players. We’re delighted with the balance of the group and we look forward to whatever the challenges of 2020 throw at us.’
It still remains to be seen whether the revised Rugby Championship will go ahead, or if the All Blacks will only be able to take part in a series of Bledisloe Cup clashes against Australia.
All Blacks squad:
Hookers: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor.
Props: Alex Hodgman*, Nepo Laulala, Tyrel Lomax, Joe Moody, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Locks: Quinten Strange*, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa’i*, Samuel Whitelock.
Loose Forwards: Sam Cane (C), Shannon Frizell, Cullen Grace* Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu*.
Halfbacks: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber.
First Fives: Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga.
Midfield: Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown.
Outside Backs: Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Caleb Clarke*, Will Jordan*, Damian McKenzie, Sevu Reece.
*Denotes uncapped player
Photo: All Blacks/Twitter