Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has admitted to some envy over the All Blacks’ squad depth, as he revealed the squad that is set to take them on in the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship.
Rennie revealed a 44-man squad yesterday as the Wallabies prepare to travel to New Zealand this weekend to play two Bledisloe Cup tests – though they first have to negotiate a stint in quarantine that Rennie has called ‘unacceptable’.
However, when asked about the All Blacks’ squad, Rennie noted the fortune of his counterparts’ strength in depth – pointing to someone who he used to coach at the Chiefs as an example of a player he was surprised the All Blacks selectors didn’t pick – not even for the North v South clash.
“Geez, it’s impressive, isn’t it? If you can leave someone like Lachlan Boshier out, who I thought was incredible during Super Rugby Aotearoa, he didn’t even make the North Island side. That tells you about the depth of New Zealand rugby,” remarked Rennie.
“But in the end they can only put 15 on the field at once, so we’ll be working hard to make sure we’ve got a side that can compete.”
Boshier was the surprise omission from the final 23-man teams for the North v South match, with his snub speaking to New Zealand rugby’s rich loose forward depth and the All Blacks’ desire to harness more physicality from this area of their game.
Boshier, often in tandem with All Blacks captain Sam Cane, was one of New Zealand’s form loose forwards this season. He was a constant menace at the breakdown where he frequently won telling turnovers while his defensive work rate was off the charts.
New All Blacks selector John Plumtree admitted leaving Boshier out of the North v South clash, and with it, ultimately the All Blacks’ squad, was one of his most difficult decisions.
“If you look at the group it’s a tough loose forward trio to break into and that can happen.
“He’s got a couple of things he’s going to work on and he has a bit of direction around that. I’m sure he’s going to get many opportunities above Super level in the future.
“It was a tough call but there were many tough calls there’s many good players not here.”
Rennie has named 16 uncapped players in his first squad as Wallabies head coach, signalling a generational shift by retaining only 16 of 31 players who took part in last year’s World Cup.
In a clear shift towards youth and regeneration, eight of Rennie’s 16 new caps made their Super Rugby debuts this year and the squad has an average age of 24.
Rennie has yet to name his captain but the incumbent, Michael Hooper, was among the veterans who retained his position.
No overseas-based players were named in the initial squad, though on Thursday Rugby Australia announced an amendment to its rules to allow Rennie to include an additional two overseas-based players who don’t meet the existing 60-cap and seven-year service threshold for selection. The move follows the departure of several senior Wallabies players to Japan and Europe during the coronavirus pandemic.
Backrowers Isi Naisarani and Jack Dempsey and veteran midfielder Tevita Kuridrani are notable omissions from the squad.
Rennie has named four locks, including seasoned Rob Simmons who is the only man in the squad to have played 100 tests. But Rennie may still may look overseas to Rory Arnold, Will Skelton and Izack Rodda for reinforcement.
Uncapped Irae Simone and Len Ikitau from the ACT Brumbies have been named in midfield and Filipo Daugunu and James Ramm among the outside backs.
There are eight props, including the newcomers Angus Bell and Pone Fa’aumasili. New cap Tate McDermott is named at scrumhalf beside Nic White, Joe Powell and Jake Gordon and flyhalves Will Harrison and Noah Lolesio join James O’Connor and Matt To’omua.
Prop Jermaine Ainsley was named in the squad despite potentially being unavailable from next year, as he has signed with the Highlanders.
Wallabies squad: Jermaine Ainsley, Allan Alaalatoa, Tom Banks, Angus Bell, Filipo Daugunu, Pone Fa’amausili, Folau Fainga’a, Jake Gordon, Ned Hanigan, Will Harrison, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Michael Hooper, Tom Horton, Trevor Hosea, Len Ikitau, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Marika Koroibete, Noah Lolesio, Jack Maddocks, Tate McDermott, Fraser McReight, James O’Connor, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Matt Philip, Joe Powell, James Ramm, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Pete Samu, Rob Simmons, Irae Simone, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Lachie Swinton, Matt To’omua, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese, Rob Valetini, Nic White, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright, Tom Wright.
– With AP
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