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Jason Ryan labels contentious All Blacks selection call 'spicy' and 'tasty'

By Ned Lester
Peter Lakai of the Hurricanes. Photo by GRANT DOWN/AFP via Getty Images

All Blacks selection beckons as Super Rugby Pacific exposes any ambition lacking substance with elimination. The final is just one week away and with that, the club season makes way for international fixtures.


The big stage of club rugby sees the lights get brighter, but is no comparison for the international arena, as Sam Whitelock was quick to correct now All Blacks assistant coach Jason Ryan while in the throws of their dynastic Crusaders run.

It’s a warning that has stayed with the forwards guru and is helping inform his selections in the first All Blacks squad of the year, set to be named on Monday the 24th.

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Now in his third international season with New Zealand, Ryan is going through the selection process with more scrutiny and diversity of opinion from within the environment.

“It’s a bit of a change-up in the sense that all the coaches have a say,” Ryan told the All Blacks Podcast. “I’m taking care of the tight five and the loosies (loose forwards), while Razor’s (Scott Robertson) overseeing the loosies as well, but ultimately the forward pack is my responsibility.

“Scotty Hansen’s having a look at the nines and 10s, Jason Holland’s doing the midfield and Leon MacDonald’s doing the outsides and that fullback position.

“We had a crack at the team about a month ago for the first time in Christchurch; we said righto boys, grab the pen and chuck your names up and why and let’s have a debate.


“We had a really robust conversation and that was really good. It was good for me to not just think about your core roles of set piece in the All Black forwards, it’s good to hear conversations from Leon around what he’s seeing, this player’s carry and his footwork. Scotty says well I need you to have a bit more of a think about him defensively.

“It’s a real good, robust discussion and a good change-up. It’s a bit fresher in the sense that we all get a chance to have a say. At the end of the day, Razor’s the boss and he makes the final call.

“But, it’s good to have all those numbers in front from different areas so we’re all open to being challenged in picking the first All Blacks squad of the year, which is great.”


There’ll be two more squads named following the one selected for the England series and Fiji Test in San Diego.


For Ryan, selection is no easy task but is particularly challenging in the back row where names like Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali’i, Luke Jacobson and Sam Cane are joined by the resurgent form of Hoskins Sotutu, the development of Samipeni Finau, the health of Ethan Blackadder and the emergence of Peter Lakai among many, many more.

“There are genuinely some players who have been really consistent in Super and there are genuinely some guys who are putting their hand up in this final series as well, which I know they will.

“I think the loose forward selection is getting real tasty, a little bit spicy in some of those combos, which is brilliant. That’s a good one.

“The front row boys and the props, how we cover those boys and how we look at that. The reality is we pick three All Black teams this year; the England series, the Rugby Championship and the Northern Tour. So, we know we’re going to have a few more players than usual with the Test calendar we’ve got.

“But we need that too, I think it’s great coming out of a World Cup, heading into a good, strong calendar where we’ll have to use a few players.

“I think within our selections we’re being really challenged to go three or four deep in each position, so it’s good.”


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MattJH 30 days ago

I’ve got a feeling Peter Lakai may have to wait a bit longer.

Graham 30 days ago

The selection of the All Black squad is going to be very interesting. Scott Barrett , I believe will be the captain. He is the best man for the job. Ethan Blackadder will also be there. Looked great on his return. Codie Taylor showed he is the best hooker. Wallace Sititi, could be a bolter.

Scott 30 days ago

The All Blacks have 3 very special young athletes in back row who could become world class by 2027- 6 Samipeni Fineau, 7 Peter Lauki, and 8 Wallace Sititi.

Are they ready to start versus England in July 2024- no. But I would have all 3 in the squad now so the can make debuts vs Fiji, Argentina, and Australia.

For England, I would start the best loose forward combination from players who have been capped by the All Blacks already which I believe are 6 Ethan Blackadder, 7 Dalton Papalii, 8 Ardie Savea with Hoskins Sotutu on the bench.

Red and White Dynamight 31 days ago

Chiefs loosies looked better without Cane there, the ABs will too.

Willie 32 days ago

I anticipated the ABs will again be world class without missing a beat until I read Leon MacDonald is involved with selections. Compare this year’s Blues with MacDonald’s riff raff of the past if you want to argue.

Graham 32 days ago

Ethan Blackadder came back so well for the Crusaders, late in the season. He was in great form. I believe he will make the All Blacks. Those new faces mentioned , a number will be picked.

Nickers 32 days ago

Refreshing to hear something so candid and positive about what’s going on behind the scenes.

David 32 days ago

Samisoni found himself demoted to the bench by Ryan after being rated the top No 2 in World Rugby. Looks like he’s injured so won’t have to suffer not being picked by the “Crusader Razor Gang.”

T-Bone 33 days ago

It will be interesting to see the loose forward selection for the ABs

Sititi was the outstanding player and has been all year

Lakai was good but gave away 6 points

Iose very quiet

In fact the Chiefs loosies completely outplayed the hyped Canes

Tristan 33 days ago

So many loosies putting their hand up. Hansen and particularly Fossie went with experience first. Will Razor be more open to fostering potential? Iose, lakai, sititi. Zero caps between them but how good could they be as a unit in a few years….

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