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'Cheers bro': New All Black gives Foster most Kiwi response

By Ned Lester
Ofa Tu'ungafasi of the Blues and Tamaiti Williams of the Crusaders following the round 12 Super Rugby Pacific match between Crusaders and Blues at Orangetheory Stadium, on May 13, 2023, in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Naming an All Blacks squad brings with it some of the most difficult conversations a coach will have, but also some of the greatest.

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On Sunday, Ian Foster sent out messages to the former and fringe All Blacks who were hoping to hear their names called in The Rugby Championship squad but weren’t selected.

The coach revealed some players were yet to reply to the messages, as each of the hopefuls processed the news in their own way.

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Forwards coach Jason Ryan later clarified that he and Joe Schmidt would follow up with the players and have a discussion about the improvements that the coaches were looking for.

After the squad naming at Te Awamutu Rugby Club, Foster and his assistants moved on to the more joyful task of calling the five newbies.

Dallas McLeod, Samipeni Finau, Emoni Narawa, Cam Roigard and Tamaiti Williams were the players to contact.

“Ringing up guys and saying ‘look, you’ve missed out because of this’. It’s tough. It’s the toughest part of the job,” Ryan told SENZ Breakfast.

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“The great part of the job is when you leave Te Awamutu sports club, me Foz and Joe were sitting in the car and Foz goes ‘Righto, let’s ring the new boys’.

“We rung them all and it was just unbelievable, everyone had their own story.

“Tamaiti Williams, Fozzie goes ‘It’s Ian Foster here, congratulations Tamaiti.’ Tamaiti goes ‘Oh, cheers bro!’

“Like how good, that’s a young man being themselves and that’s exactly what we want.”

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Williams has stepped into the starting XV for the Crusaders in 2023 with the injuries to All Blacks George Bower, Joe Moody and Fletcher Newell as well as Oli Jager.

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The prop ticked all the boxes for Ryan, his size providing some of the best post-contact statistics in Super Rugby while his skills as a distributor contribute to the Crusaders’ attack plays and his fitness and attitude ensure he’s off the ground and into the next play straight away.

The 22-year-old was enjoying a visit from his parents over the weekend when the squad was announced and he had to wait until the very end of the alphabetical list to hear his name.

“I only kind of heard the start of my name, and then mum started crying,” Williams said. “So I thought it must be good news.”

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