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All Blacks XV bring in six replacements for two-Test campaign

By Tom Vinicombe
Cortez Ratima and Josh Ioane. (Photos by Getty Images and Photosport)

A heavy injury toll in the final rounds of this year’s NPC competition coupled with a raft of players being called up to the All Blacks has seen New Zealand’s second-string side call on six replacements for their inaugural campaign.

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The All Blacks XV will travel to Europe to take on Ireland A and the Barbarians over two weekends and after originally naming a squad of 28, have had to call on a considerable number of replacements.

Gone from the initial squad are Asafo Aumua, Damian McKenzie, Mark Telea, Patrick Tuipulotu and Brad Weber, who have been whistled into the top side ahead of their clash with Japan. That five-strong contingent could still feature for the All Blacks XV, with the team’s two clashes coming in the weeks following the match in Tokyo, but a string of injuries to other players have effectively forced the national selectors’ hands.

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Hooker George Bell, props Oli Jager and Angus Ta’avao and first five-eighth Bryn Gatland have all succumbed to injuries incurred during the knockout stages of the NPC, reducing the All Blacks XV to just 19 players ahead of their tour.

As such, the selectors have wisely still seen fit to add some much-needed bodies to the group before they travel to Ireland for their first-ever fixture against the Irish Wolfhounds.

Props Pouri Rakete-Stones and Tevita Mafileo will cover for the absences of Jager and Ta’avao while 21-year-old Chiefs wrecking ball Tyrone Thompson has come in to replace fellow youngster Bell.

Three additional Chiefs players have also received a call-up, with halves Cortez Ratima and Josh Ioane filling in for their counterparts who were summoned into the All Blacks and outside back Shaun Stevenson – who was a surprise omission from the original squad – also getting a golden ticket.

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A replacement captain has not yet been named for Patrick Tuipulotu – although the Blues second-rower could return to the side before they undertake the first of their two matches.

The All Blacks XV was launched as New Zealand Rugby’s next senior national representative team after the All Blacks in 2020 but hasn’t been able to take the field until this year due to the global pandemic.

The All Blacks XV follows in the footsteps of similar teams which have assembled throughout New Zealand rugby’s history, including the Junior All Blacks, New Zealand A and Emerging Players.

The team will take on Ireland A on 4 November and the Barbarians on 13 November.

Updated All Blacks XV squad:

Props
Finlay Brewis (22, Crusaders / Canterbury)
Pouri Rakete-Stones (25, Hurricanes / Hawke’s Bay)
Aidan Ross (26, Chiefs / Bay of Plenty)
Tamaiti Williams (22, Crusaders / Canterbury)
Tevita Mafileo (24, Hurricanes / Bay of Plenty)

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Hookers
Brodie McAlister (25, Crusaders / Canterbury)
Tyrone Thompson (22, Chiefs / Hawke’s Bay)

Locks
Josh Dickson (27, Highlanders / Otago)
Zach Gallagher (21, Crusaders / Canterbury)

Loose Forwards
Dominic Gardiner (21, Crusaders / Canterbury)
Billy Harmon (27, Highlanders / Canterbury)
Luke Jacobson (25, Chiefs / Waikato)
Christian Lio-Willie (24, Crusaders / Otago)
Marino Mikaele-Tu’u (24, Highlanders / Hawke’s Bay)

Halfbacks
TJ Perenara (30, Hurricanes / Wellington)
Cortez Ratima (21, Chiefs / Waikato)
Cam Roigard (21, Hurricanes / Counties Manukau)

First five-eighths
Josh Ioane (27, Chiefs / Otago)

Midfielders
Levi Aumua (28, Moana Pasifika / Tasman)
Bryce Heem (33, Blues / Auckland)
Alex Nankivell (26, Chiefs / Tasman)
Bailyn Sullivan (24, Hurricanes / Waikato)

Outside backs
AJ Lam (24, Blues / Auckland)
Ruben Love (21, Hurricanes / Wellington)
Shaun Stevenson (25, Chiefs / North Harbour)

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