All Blacks

All Blacks set challenges for 2021

"We want to get our performance at a consistent level that we can really challenge and be the number one team in the world."

 

The first step towards reclaiming a title they have not held for almost two years has been taken.

Named in Auckland on Monday night, the first All Blacks squad of 2021 includes 36 names.

A big but necessary number, according to Foster.

"We've got four tests in a row in September, we could have up to five in a row in November and we've just come off a big Super Rugby competition.

'Composed' Quinn Tupaea impresses with his big move into No 12

Make no mistake, the All Blacks understand they have some work to do in their midfield space in general, and the No 12 position in particular as they open a challenging campaign likely to grow to 15 tests with their July series against Tonga (July 3) and Fiji (July 10 and 17).

David Havili's could be welcomed in from cold when squad named

Havili, who hasn’t represented his country since starting at fullback against a French XV in Lyon in mid-November 2017, has emerged as a leading contender to glue the All Blacks’ midfield together for the three tests against Tonga and Fiji next month.

When All Blacks coach Ian Foster names up to 36 players in his first squad of the year on Monday night he will explain how he intends to fill gaping holes in the middle of his backline.

All Blacks lose another star to injury ahead of July test series against Tonga and Fiji

According to a report from the New Zealand Herald, the All Blacks will be without their most experienced midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown after he underwent minor elbow surgery on Friday.

The Herald reports the 26-year-old’s elbow has been locking up in recent weeks, with scans revealing bone fragment concerns that required minor keyhole surgery.

The successful surgery is expected to leave Lienert-Brown sidelined for New Zealand’s July 3 test against Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland and the July 10 test against Fiji at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

Hoskins Sotutu returns as one of three All Blacks tweaks to Blues forward pack

There are just three changes to the starting lineup, all in the forward pack.

Hoskins Sotutu, who debuted in the All Blacks last season, has been elevated back into the starting team at number 8 in place of fellow NZ representative Akira Ioane who drops to the bench.

Sotutu has missed just one game for the Blues this year and was also benched for last weekend’s clash with the Reds. Ioane, meanwhile, has featured in every single game for the Auckland franchise in 2021, either in the starting lineup or from the reserves.

Former All Black captain Buck Shelford knighted

From today, the former All Black captain known as Buck, upgrades to Sir Wayne "Buck" Shelford.

And this time it is official.

Shelford's knighthood for services to rugby and the community in the Queen's Birthday Honours was not a surprise to his wife, Jo, who had played a part in helping those people in Māoridom who had nominated him.

"I put this letter [from Government House] in front of her and she just looked at me and laughed," Shelford said of his own discovery that he was among the four New Zealanders to be knighted today.

Crusaders rest key All Blacks for Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash against Western Force

Mo’unga is one of four players who started in last week’s 54-28 thumping of the Waratahs in Wollongong who have been benched or rested for this Friday’s match at Orangetheory Stadium.

In his place has come 21-year-old first-five Fergus Burke, who will start in his first-ever game for the Crusaders.

Mo’unga, who has been the subject of plenty of attention in recent weeks due to his sterling performances in Super Rugby this season, will be joined on the sidelines by two other All Blacks, Sam Whitelock and Sevu Reece, who both started off the bench last week.

Why the All Blacks might not name many debutants to play Tonga and Fiji

The first All Blacks squad of the year is expected to be named over the coming weeks, with the first test of the year scheduled against Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on July 3.

Two tests against Fiji in Dunedin and Hamilton will follow in consecutive weeks, and speculation among fans and pundits about who could make the squad for the upcoming test series has been ongoing since the beginning of the Super Rugby season.

All Blacks get five home Rugby Championship tests

 

The Rugby Championship will include all four nations - New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and South Africa with the bulk of the matches played in Australia and New Zealand.

The world champion Springboks missed the competition last year, withdrawing from the tournament due to Covid-19.

The All Blacks have July tests against Tonga and Fiji before the opening Bledisloe Cup against the Wallabies at Eden Park on 7 August.

All Black Shannon Frizell returns to Highlanders side to face Force

Frizell was omitted from the side that beat the Reds in Dunedin last Friday due to an assault allegation. However, the 27-year-old has not been charged following the incident at a popular Dunedin restaurant/bar and coach Clarke Dermody said he was ready to return to work.

“Last week he wasn’t in the right head space to play for us,” Dermody said. “We decided to leave him out and it was the right decision.

“He seems energised now and ready to go again. He's an experienced tourist as well, which is great for our younger guys.