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Israel Dagg predicts the All Blacks XV side to face Japan

By Ned Lester
Emoni Narawa celebrates his try for the Chiefs. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP /AFP via Getty Images

June 18 will bring both delight and dismay as New Zealand’s top rugby talent will listen for their name in the first All Blacks squad of the year. What will be a silver lining for some, will be a step closer to a dream for others as the All Blacks XV side will also be named that day.


In a World Cup year, players will have their positional hierarchies revealed to them and also have an opportunity to prove their worth in the international arena.

New Zealand Rugby’s new initiative debuted in 2022 and in 2023 we could already see players graduate from the secondary side to Ian Foster’s squad.

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The team will again be coached by Leon MacDonald but this year travel to Japan to face the Brave Blossoms as well as their equivalent team, the Japan XV. The matches will take place on July 8 and 15.

66-cap All Black Israel Dagg this week revealed his predicted All Blacks XV side. The selections include players ascending into the fringe All Black conversation as well as capped All Blacks who have failed to secure their position in 2023.

“Many of them have still got an opportunity to make that squad,” Dagg admitted while announcing his prediction on SENZ Breakfast.

Here’s Dagg’s XV:

  1. Aidan Ross
  2. Brodie McAlister
  3. Nepo Laulala
  4. Quinten Strange
  5. Tupou Vaa’i
  6. Luke Jacobson (c)
  7. Tom Christie/Du’Plessis Kirifi
  8. Brayden Iose
  9. Cortez Ratima/Noah Hotham
  10. Stephen Perofeta
  11. Caleb Clarke
  12. Bryce Heem/Levi Aumua
  13. Braydon Ennor
  14. Emoni Narawa
  15. Shaun Stevenson/Josh Moorby



There were a number of players who prompted further explanation as Dagg read through his list. Luke Jacobson is one name that many feel deserves to be in the All Blacks and Dagg stated “I hope I get proved wrong there”.

At No 7, Tom Christie and Du’plessis Kirifi share the honours but Highlanders captain Billy Harmon was also considered, it was unclear whether Harmon was promoted from his spot in the team last year or demoted.

“The hard one, that’s potentially going to lose his spot in the All Blacks, he’s injured at the moment and I don’t know if he’s done enough. There’s too many quality players playing well, is Caleb Clarke to start on the left wing.”


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Ruby 375 days ago

I'm not convinced that they'll call up Cam Roigard for the Championship, he'd arguably be getting better international experience in the two games against Japan than he would with 20 minutes against Argentina.

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