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Exodus XV vs the class of '24: How the All Blacks' future squad stacks up

By Ned Lester
Will Jordan and Beauden Barrett. (Photo by John Davidson/Photosport)

The end of an era approaches, and while not the most successful era by All Blacks standards, one that submitted some legendary names into New Zealand Rugby history.

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A few young guns join the veteran talent heading offshore in 2024, some with the potential to return while others look to see out their playing days with that extra Euro or Yen in pocket.

For all the vacated jerseys there’s an abundance of hungry hopefuls training for their shot at the next level. So, how does an XV of departing players stack up against those who will define 2024 and beyond?

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Well, let’s take a look. Here’s an All Blacks exodus XV:

  1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi
  2. Dane Coles
  3. Nepo Laulala
  4. Brodie Retallick
  5. Sam Whitelock
  6. Shannon Frizell
  7. Ardie Savea  
  8. Pita Gus Sowakula
  9. Aaron Smith
  10. Richie Mo’unga
  11. Leicester Fainga’anuku
  12. Jack Goodhue
  13. Alex Nankivell
  14. Julian Savea
  15. Beauden Barrett

Bench: Alex Hodgeman, Andrew Makalio, Josh Dickson, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Brad Weber, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Bryn Gatland

Coach: Ian Foster

Average Age: 33

Average experience: 58 Tests

Filling in some of the gaps with former All Blacks and All Blacks XV selections, New Zealand could field quite the squad made up entirely of players heading offshore or retiring in 2024.

Even including the zero Test caps of Alex Nankivell and the two of Leicester Fainga’anuku, there’s an average experience of 58 caps in the starting XV.

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And for comparison, here’s how the best of the rest look (based on current All Blacks selections):

  1. Ethan de Groot
  2. Samisoni Taukei’aho
  3. Tyrel Lomax
  4. Scott Barrett
  5. Tupou Vaa’i
  6. Samipeni Finau
  7. Sam Cane
  8. Luke Jacobson
  9. Cam Roigard
  10. Damian McKenzie
  11. Caleb Clarke
  12. Jordie Barrett
  13. Rieko Ioane
  14. Mark Telea
  15. Will Jordan

Bench: Fletcher Newell, Codie Taylor, Tamaiti Williams, Patrick Tuipulotu, Dalton Papali’i, Finlay Christie, Anton Lienert-Brown, Shaun Stevenson

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Coach: Scott Robertson

Average age: 26

Average experience: 28 Tests

31-year-old Sam Cane and his 86 caps may be a bit of an outlier in this starting XV, the All Black captain’s current contract runs through until 2025, at which point he’ll have a decision to make. The rest are all at an age that could easily see them hold or hit their primes during the next World Cup cycle.

That being said, were this squad to front up at the 2027 Rugby World Cup, their average age of 30 would be slightly beyond what previous tournaments have proven to be optimal. For context, the Rugby World Cup winning sides of 2011 and 2015 had an average age of 28 and 29 respectively.

Compared to the outgoing crew, the next generation squad feature nine players that started in the All Blacks’ final fixture of 2022 compared to the six from the leavers. Proving form favours the younger unit.

Eleven of the exodus XV make up the recently named 36-man Rugby Championship squad, the remaining 25 will be available for selection in 2024.

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What the farewell team have going for them is experience. Their 58-Test average is far closer to the magic number of 50 which is the average of World Cup-winning teams in the professional era.

Leicester Fainga’anuku lends some youth to the exodus team while Sam Cane offers experience to their opponents.

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Comments

5 Comments
P
Pecos 377 days ago

I expect Scooter to be Razor's AB skipper so Cane will deffs be an outlier.

Also, a post RWC "exodus" team is an interesting but useless exercise.

m
mikejjules 378 days ago

The WC is still too young to be reading much into stats. Add in the 4 or 5 teams who had a chance of winning it and the subsequent journalistic experts who spout expertise post cup 6 is embarrassing.
So many closer games are decided by a whisker, 2 or 3 decisions, the bounce of the ball, and/or a fortuitous path that the diatribe that comes out after is plain nonsensical. Let's treat all world cups for what they are; a cheap commercial avenue to publicise the said sport.

H
Henry 378 days ago

Ardie Savea is having a sabbatical next year, meaning he is still eligible to play for the All Blacks, and shouldn't really be considered in the exodus team.

m
mknz 378 days ago

Ofa Tu'ungafasi is under contract with NZR for 2024.

There has been no official announcement about Shaun Stevenson's status for 2024.

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