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Ian Foster’s message for All Blacks who missed out on World Cup squad

By Finn Morton
Joe Moody of the All Blacks looks on during the 2020 Tri-Nations rugby match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Argentina Los Pumas at Bankwest Stadium on November 14, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Following their perfect Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup campaigns, the All Blacks announced their star-studded 33-man squad for the upcoming Rugby World Cup on Monday.

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As former captain Richie McCaw read out the names in Napier, the All Blacks began to make their way out onto a stage – starting with the world-class trio of Beauden, Jordie and Scott Barrett.

For the players selected, that moment marked the realisation of childhood dreams. Coach Ian Foster revealed that more than half of the squad are on the brink of their first-ever World Cup.

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Yet, as they always are in sport, there are winners and those who fall short. There are more than 33 talented rugby players in New Zealand – tough decisions were inevitable, and fan favourites were going to miss out.

Flanker Ethan Blackadder, lock Josh Lord and prop Joe Moody are among the big name omissions from the squad. But all three have battled injuries, which has surely played a part.

But these players still have “a job to do” over the next month or so.

“We’ve made lots of calls, particularly to people that have missed out. They’re hard,” Foster told reporters. “Part of the next reality is when you miss out, you’ve still got a job to do.

“We have to manage some loads from some players in the next four to eight weeks, and we’ve got to be smart with that.”

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Coach Foster name-dropped Josh Lord as a player the All Blacks will continue to monitor, even though the rising star missed out on Rugby World Cup selection.

Following a lengthy stint on the sidelines with an injury, Lord returned to Super Rugby Pacific with the Chiefs. The second-rower only played a handful of games before the season came to a close.

But Lord was anything but underdone as he was named to start at lock for the All Blacks’ first Test of the year. Lord, 22, was superb against Argentina in Mendoza last month.

There was no room for the towering lock, who is the fifth tallest All Black ever, in the World Cup squad – although second rower Brodie Retallick has sustained a knee injury.

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“We’ve got the likes of, I’ll give you some examples, like a Josh Lord who’s been with us, a specialist lock, played really well, missed out on the squad,” Foster added.

He’s probably another couple of weeks away from playing with his shoulder so we’ll be monitoring him really, really closely.”

Running through the All Blacks’ World Cup squad, prop Joe Moody was one of the first players who came to mind for the wrong reason.

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Moody, who has shone for the All Blacks in the past – including at the successful 2015 Rugby World Cup – was a surprise omission from Ian Foster’s plans.

“You’ve got Joe Moody with his vast experience and a pretty special man, been a great All Black, and I know he’s desperate to come back and play again,” Foster added.

“We just felt with his time away, the end of ’21 was the last time he played for the All Blacks, and we just feel with him he’s going to benefit from playing some regular time over the next four to six weeks and really build up his body and confidence.

“He’s the ultimate story for World Cups… history is full of players coming in and joining us and making a massive difference.

“That’s just a couple of names.

“There will be a group, we won’t make that public because you never quite know the ramifications of who you actually need when you have injuries in the squad… we’ll make sure that group of players knows.”

The All Blacks take on rivals South Africa at Twickenham later this month in their final warmup Test before the Rugby World Cup.

New Zealand open their tournament against hosts and favourites France in Paris on September 9 (NZST).

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