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'I wouldn't call it safe': Robertson on why there are no debutants in his All Black side

By Ben Smith
Billy Proctor looks on during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at NZCIS on July 02, 2024 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Scott Robertson has explained his thinking behind the first All Blacks side of the year which does not include any debutants despite naming five rookies in the squad.


Pasilio Tosi, Billy Proctor, Cortez Ratima, George Bell and Wallace Sititi will have to wait at least another week to wear the black the jersey for the first time.

The experienced side featured many Test regulars, with fullback Stephen Perofeta the only real surprise, picked ahead of Beauden Barrett and Super Rugby’s form No 15 Ruben Love who has been training with the team.

“I wouldn’t call it safe, just the best team for this Test,” Robertson explained to media.

“Those combinations are really critical and guys with experience, a lot of experience in this team, guys who have played a lot of Tests.

“Got a really strong bench, a very experienced bench which will be critical. Firstly to come in and do their roles, finish a job and make an impact. Officially that’s it, and keep an eye on what’s required in the game.

“When you’ve got Beauden Barrett on the bench, it’s pretty special.”

With Anton Lienert-Brown and Beauden Barrett on the bench, there is a lot of experience for Robertson to call on in the backs, while Ofa Tu’ungafasi and Luke Jacobson bring plenty up front.

Robertson said he deliberated a lot on the selection of Stephen Perofeta in the No 15 jersey and ultimately went with the Blues playmaker who just completed a title-winning season with the Blues.


“Obviously the experience of 123 Test matches counts for a lot, but also a guy who is in form [Perofeta], good around the high ball, playing great footy,” Robertson said.

“Just two weeks ago was playing in a Test-match level game in a final and Beauden can play his part covering both 10 and 15.”

Returning halfback TJ Perenara is one of the stories of the season, returning from injury and taking over the starting role at the Hurricanes once Cam Roigard went down with a serious injury.

The 32-year-old will line up for his 84th Test in Dunedin, but just his 22nd start after forming a 1-2 punch with Aaron Smith for most of his international career.


Robertson said Perenara had played himself into the role after a sensational season with the Hurricanes.

“He’s picked himself, he’s on form,” he said on his No 9.

“He’s a competitor you know, 80 Test matches in, he’s played a lot and been around, he’s the quarter we needed. He’s owned a lot of this week and what’s required.

“He’s a Test match footballer.”

For Robertson personally, he said the focus has been solely on the rugby as they have narrowed in on nailing this Test. He will enjoy the moment once the game arrives, but has been tying the week into his theme.

“Each Test match has it’s own little storyline and theme,” he explained.

“Sir Ted actually text me last night and said all the best, his career started 20 years ago down here in the same place [Dunedin]. So a nice little touch from him, and he had a hell of a career didn’t he?

“The legacy part, and the importance of this Test, and getting it right.”

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV


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B.J. Spratt 8 days ago

This is a team that will beat the Poms easily. “Keep the ball alive” and quick ball at the breakdown, will give our backs a huge front foot advantage.

A game that will be played “At such a pace, the Poms have never experienced, from the kick off”

“The Ambush at Forsythe Barr”

Alex Mitchell and Marcus Smith stand between the All Blacks and cricket score.

I believe we will dominate the lineout and the scrum comprehensively. Huge win.

All Blacks will be back at Number 1 by the end of the season.

Jasyn 8 days ago

No Razor, it’s safe lol. Understandable given all the changes, but even so Perenara, Ioane and Perofeta can feel pretty lucky they’re anywhere near that squad, let alone in the starting team.

Proctor getting up to speed and Roigard and Will Jordan coming back can’t come soon enough.

Forward pass 9 days ago

I dont understand some selections here. he says experience and combinations determine some selections but not others apparently.
Bring on saturday evening.

JD Kiwi 9 days ago

It's the first test of a new era with lots of key retirements/injuries and just a week and a half with the squad.

They need all the continuity they can get this week. The changes will come soon enough.

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Tom 9 minutes ago
All Blacks snatch another tight victory from England at Eden Park

First up to any of the ABs fans who accused us of “bluster” pre-series for saying it would be a competitive - I'm glad it turned out to be an excellent series to which the ABs were deserving winners and I hope next time a side tours you'll be a little more humble. I loved the heart shown by the English boys and how they managed to contain the AB attack for large parts of the series. Was very disappointed by the lack of cohesion and ambition ball in hand, we looked after the ball poorly and hardly went 2 phases without kicking it away. We're not giving ourselves enough opportunity to put phases together and build pressure. The ambition shown in the 6N against Ireland and France seems to have gone and our players look very hesitant with ball in hand, our line speed is faster without the ball than with it. Loving seeing Maro back to his best and Fin Baxter really impressed, Alex Mitchell looks to be one of the most complete 9s in world rugby, great around the base and impeccable kicking. Congrats to the ABs, far more dangerous and skillful than England. We contained you for large swathes but to shut down that amount of pace and skill for 80 mins is nigh on impossible. Managed to find a way to win and instinctively grabbed the rare opportunities which came your way. Finding ways to win in two tight test matches will I'm sure be a great experience for your younger players. Beauden needs to be in the starting 15, what a worldie.

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