All Blacks to send 11 players on to Europe ahead of USA test
While the bulk of the All Blacks squad are buckling down ahead of this weekend’s clash with the United States, a small contingent of players will shortly be preparing themselves for what’s to come in Europe.
Eleven players who are surplus to requirements for the clash with the Eagles will head to London 24 hours ahead of their teammates due to restrictions with travel which would prevent the entirety of the touring group from travelling on the same flight.
Codie Taylor, Joe Moody, Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tuungafasi, Brodie Retallick, Shannon Frizell, Ethan Blackadder, Akira Ioane, David Havili, Rieko Ioane and Jordie Barrett make up the 11-strong contingent of players who, by and large, have shouldered a heavy workload throughout the test season to date.
Taylor, Laulala, Retallick, Havili, Barrett and the Ioane brothers have all made no fewer than eight appearances for the All Blacks throughout the season, with Rieko Ioane featuring in every single game to date.
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Moody and Tuungafasi, meanwhile, are still on the comeback from long-winded injuries that saw them make their returns to action in the latter stages of the Rugby Championship and head coach Ian Foster has evidently decided that they’ll benefit from another week off before likely lining up to take on Wales in Cardiff in a week’s time.
Frizell, who only linked up with the All Blacks last weekend, is on the mend from an injury of his own and was unavailable for this weekend’s fixture.
That leaves Ethan Blackadder, who has probably taken on a bigger role than he or the selectors envisaged at this stage of the year, clocking up seven appearances in his debut season with the All Blacks.
Foster made it clear on Thursday that while some players will make the move from the USA to the UK, that’s entirely due to external forces and that the side is very much focused on this weekend’s fixture.
Despite kicking off their rivalry in 1913, before coming up against the likes of Italy, Argentina or even South Africa, this weekend’s match will mark just the fourth time the #AllBlacks and @USARugby have gone toe to toe. #USAvNZL
— The XV Rugby (@TheXV) October 20, 2021
“We can’t get the whole squad over on Saturday night so we’ve had to send 11 players a day early,” he said. “That’s the number one and only reason why we’re doing it. International flights are a little bit harder to organise than they used to be.”
It would come as no surprise if all 11 of the players were to take part in next weekend’s clash, the first of four games in Europe.
After taking on Wales, the All Blacks travel to Italy and Ireland before finishing up their season in France.
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