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A number of All Blacks lining up for Super Rugby preseason against future stars

By Ned Lester
Image by Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Super Rugby Pacififc’s preseason schedule kicks off this weekend and while most of the All Blacks squad are required to rest, a number of players have made their way into the lineups and will face off against some of the game’s brightest up-and-coming talent.

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Moana Pasifika will host the Chiefs in the first New Zealand preseason game of the year and will be up against some fine international talent, with the Chiefs naming five All Blacks in addition to a number of World Cup bolter hopefuls. The recently capped Pita Gus Sowakula will start in the No 8 jersey along with Brad Weber and Damian McKenzie while Aidan Ross and Luke Jacobson will feature in the second half.

Shaun Stevenson, Alex Nankerville, Tyrone Tompson and Cortez Ratima were each selected in the All Blacks XV and will play in the match against fellow All Blacks XV talent in Levi Aumua, who lines up for Moana Pasifika in the second quarter of the match.

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Joe Moody makes his long-awaited return to the field in Crusaders colours later on Friday evening, along with fellow injury-prone All Black Jack Goodhue. The uncapped Josh Dickson is the lone All Black member of the Highlanders’ lineup but is accompanied by a wealth of youthful firepower, some of whom are fresh out of the New Zealand Under-20 squad.

All Blacks XV representatives Finlay Brewis, Tamaiti Williams, Brodie Mcalister, Dominic Gardner, Zach Gallagher and Christian Lio-Willie will all line up for Scott Robertson while Marino Mikaele-Tu’u features for the Highlanders.

The big news out of Auckland is Roger Tuivasa-Sheck requesting and receiving permission to play in Auckland’s first preseason match against the Hurricanes on Saturday. The veteran prop Owen Franks will feature off the bench for the Wellington club along with former superstar Julian Savea.

A handful of Maori All Black, as well as All Balck XV talent, will feature with the likes of Zharn Sullivan and AJ Lam in the back for the Blues along with young All Black Sevens speedster Caleb Tangitau.

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J
Jon 6 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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