George Bridge reportedly set to call time on All Blacks career
Bridge made his international debut against Japan in 2018 and forced his way into the first-choice 23 ahead of Rieko Ioane in the build-up to the following year’s Rugby World Cup.
The 27-year-old never fully entrenched himself in the No 11 jersey, however, with injuries curtailing his 2020 and 2021 seasons, and Bridge was a notable omission when the All Blacks named their first squad of the season ahead of their July series with Ireland.
With the likes of Leicester Fainga’anuku and Braydon Ennor emerging for the Crusaders, Bridge also found himself competing for jersey throughout Super Rugby Pacific and managed just eight stars for the champions this year.
Ample outside backs are also cropping up around the country and Bridge would be facing a significant challenge to force his way back into national contention, especially if he’s not able to lock down a starting role with the Crusaders.
At just 27 years of age, many around New Zealand would have hoped to see the relatively young outside back attempt to fight his way back into the All Blacks, even if that meant having to look elsewhere for Super Rugby game time. While the Crusaders and Blues boast considerable talents out wide, the Chiefs, Highlanders and even Hurricanes could do with a man of Bridge’s talents.
Generally secure under the high ball and with deceptive top-end pace, Bridge’s skill set will suit the long and attritional French club season, where he could eventually find himself facing off with a number of former All Blacks teammates.
Bridge will depart New Zealand with numerous accolades to his name, including one Rugby Championship title, three Bledisloe Cup defences, six Super Rugby crowns, two NPC titles, a North vs South victory and a World U20 Championship title.
Scoring 37 tries in his Super Rugby career, Bridge will also end his NZ career as the Crusaders’ fourth-highest try-scorer of all time.
Bridge is currently playing a key role in Canterbury’s impressive provincial season, which sees them sit atop the Evens conference in the NPC with just two weekends left of action before the finals.
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