By NZ Herald

After missing out on selection for the North v South game, Blues prop Alex Hodgman thought it was an indication he wouldn’t be named in the first All Blacks squad of the year.

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As a result, the announcement on Sunday slipped his mind.

The Blues prop and new All Black admitted he “totally forgot” about the announcement on Sunday, revealing he learnt of his selection from reading messages on his phone.

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Instead of tuning in, the 27-year-old had been attending a church service that began at the same time as the announcement.

“It’s an online service and it finished about 11.40,” he said. “Afterwards I checked my phone and saw all these texts and messages.

“I flicked on Sky Sport and sure enough the announcement was on. I totally forgot about it and got the surprise of my life, really.”

All Blacks coach Ian Foster said Hodgman earned his inclusion after maturing his scrummaging work with the Blues this season.

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Hodgman had a strong campaign in the front row for the Blues, performing well at the scrum, making plenty of tackles and showing his mobility on attack. Across seven appearances for the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa, Hodgman averaged nine tackles and five carries in 56 minutes per game.

Born and raised in Auckland, Hodgman travelled south to begin his professional career, making his debut for Canterbury in 2014.

He won three Mitre 10 Cup titles with the red and blacks and notched up nine Super Rugby caps for the Crusaders before returning home to Auckland.

Hodgman is one of seven new names in the All Blacks squad along with Quinten Strange, Tupou Vaa’i, Cullen Grace, Hoskins Sotutu, Caleb Clarke and Will Jordan.

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“The result is that we can now announce a team that is rich in experience and a little battle-hardened after the Rugby World Cup, but forward looking with the inclusion of a number of new players. We’re delighted with the balance of the group and we look forward to whatever the challenges of 2020 throw at us,” Foster said after naming the 35-man squad yesterday.

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and was republished with permission.

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