Rugby World Cup 2019: Bolter Luke Jacobson’s All Blacks selection surprise

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The one Test All Black will be on the plane to Tokyo.

In the space of a few hours on Wednesday morning, Luke Jacobson’s phone turned from a potential heart-attack merchant to a busy well-wishing machine.

After a grand total of just 23 minutes’ test footy, the 22-year-old loose forward from Cambridge was a bolter in the All Blacks’ 31-man squad named for the Rugby World Cup, which kicks off next month.

With only unsuccessful players getting a phone call from the selectors and the rest finding out at the same time as everyone else at the midday Eden Park announcement, Jacobson had no idea whether he had booked himself a ticket to Tokyo.

Luke Jacobson was a bolter in the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup squad.

HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

Luke Jacobson was a bolter in the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup squad.

“I was real nervous, definitely this morning and last night,” he said, just a few hours after the big announcement. “Any little buzz on my phone I was pretty scared of looking at.

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“I literally had no little inkling leading into it.”

Jacobson had been tipped as a long-term-looking All Black, having impressed for the Chiefs in his two seasons in Super Rugby. But it appeared the World Cup may have just come about too soon for the former New Zealand Under 20s captain.

After making his debut off the bench in the opening test of the year – the 20-16 Rugby Championship win over Argentina in Buenos Aires last month – Jacobson wasn’t selected to face the Springboks in Wellington the following weekend. Then, despite being retained in the trimmed-down Bledisloe Cup squad, the return of concussion-like symptoms – having been seriously affected by head knocks in the past few years – saw him miss those matches.

It meant just one more outing before the World Cup squad was named – a Mitre 10 Cup match for Waikato against Counties Manukau in Pukekohe last Saturday night, when Jacobson put in a superb performance at No 8 in the Mooloos’ 31-26 win.

A superb outing for Waikato last weekend helped showcase Luke Jacobson's talents.

PHIL WALTER/GETTY IMAGES

A superb outing for Waikato last weekend helped showcase Luke Jacobson’s talents.

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