Brodie Retallick This is another beautiful component.
More than half of the All Blacks chosen to defend the Rugby World Cup in Japan will be heading to their first World Cup tournament.
Of the 31 players named, 19 have never played at a World Cup.
Captain Kieran Read, lock Sam Whitelock and midfield Sonny Bill Williams are at their third consecutive World Cup.
His second World Cup after travelling to England in 2015 as the third hooker, he has since established himself at test level. He could start ahead of Dane Coles in Japan after being nominated for last year’s Kelvin R Tremain Memorial trophy, New Zealand Rugby’s top award, while winning the Māori player of the year award.
Considered the world’s best hooker at the last World Cup, he has struggled with various injury problems since and is not guaranteed to start, with Taylor in the mix. As tough as they come, he has fought back to fitness and his experience will be vital when the heat is on towards the sharp end of the Japan tournament.
School:Francis Douglas Memorial College
The third choice hooker behind incumbents Coles and Taylor is unlikely to feature much in Japan. He has played only six tests and all off the bench, but got the nod ahead of Asafo Aumua and Nathan Harris.
The tighthead could start the World Cup opener after a strong display when the All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup. He has become a regular in the squad in recent years after successfully overcoming a horror knee injury suffered in 2016.
School:Marlborough Boys’ College
Capable at tighthead and loosehead and highly rated, his return this season after a nightmare leg injury suffered last year was seamless and he made his test debut in Argentina last month. He captained New Zealand’s under-20s to a world title in 2015.
The loosehead initially missed the cut for the last World Cup but an injury to Tony Woodcock led to him playing all three knockout games as the All Blacks won their third title. A powerful scrummager, he has had no luck with injuries in the last year since Brodie Retallick’s thumb accidentally went into his left eye and split his eyelid but he has admirably recovered.
Developed into one of the country’s best tightheads after not having a full-time contract at the start of last year’s Super Rugby. He has played in all four tests this year and the former Waratahs prop, who returned to New Zealand in 2017 with Taranaki, could well have been a Wallaby had he stayed in Australia.
Adept on both sides of the front row and a regular since his debut against Wales, he has played most of his test rugby off the bench but for four starts (three at loosehead and one at tighthead). Alongside Sonny Bill Williams’ mother, he converted to Islam after March’s Christchurch terror attack.
School:Francis Douglas Memorial College
One of three Barrett brothers in the squad, he will be free to play in Japan after becoming the fourth ever All Black to be sent off in a test match, during the Perth pummelling by the Wallabies in the first Bledisloe test. He scored on his test debut in the historic loss to Ireland in Chicago and has played almost every test since.
School:Christchurch Boys’ High
One of the world’s best, he will miss the pool games in Japan after dislocating his shoulder against South Africa on July 27. Very few players with such a severe injury would warrant World Cup selection but he does and it is hoped he will return in time for the quarterfinals on October 19-20.
School:St Peter’s College
Played arguably his best game for the All Blacks when they retained the Bledisloe Cup, and booked his ticket to Japan. His test debut was more than five years ago and while not always living up to his potential, he could play a vital role in Retallick’s absence.
Carries extra responsibility with Retallick sidelined but no player is in a better place to handle that, with more than 100 tests of experience. A World Cup winner in 2011 and 2015, he has long been a towering talisman for club and country and is one of three brothers who have played for the All Blacks, as well as elder and younger brothers George and Luke.
School:Tauranga Boys’ College
Province:Bay of Plenty
He recovered from a broken neck suffered in South Africa last October and hit the ground running when returning to play in Super Rugby in May. E
I adore add-ons, because they are the glamorous.
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