With the new 51-man All Blacks squad comes eight brand new All Blacks. Here’s everything you need to know about them.
In June 2017 Auckland and Blues loose forward Dalton Papali’i was revelling in a second World Under 20 Championship with New Zealand, as a winner in Georgia, but not daring to believe where his career may lead.
Opportunity came knocking in 2018 as the Blues were hit by a severe injury crisis and Papali’i was signed up.
The 21-year-old has played outstanding rugby for Auckland in this year’s Mitre 10 Cup competition topping the tackles count late in the season. Auckland-raised Papalii captained his St Kentigern’s College First XV and in 2015 led the New Zealand Schools side to a convincing win over their Aussie counterparts.
Impressive 23-year-old outside back George Bridge has thrived in the successful environment of the Crusaders Super Rugby team. Born in Gisborne, Bridge moved down to Christchurch six years ago to play club rugby, getting selected in the under 20s national team and Canterbury for the Mitre 10 Cup.
He had an outstanding Investec Super Rugby debut during the Crusaders successful 2017 campaign and was named their Rookie of the Year. He continued his form into 2018, finishing second-equal on the leading try scorers list with 15 tries in the Crusaders’ back to back title season. Earlier this year Bridge signed with the club until 2022.
21-year-old Canterbury first five-eighth Brett Cameron came of age in the 2017 Mitre 10 Cup, making an assured performance in the semifinal in just his third provincial outing for the red and blacks, as Canterbury marched to the Mitre 10 Cup title.
Cameron first came onto the national radar in 2014 when he was plucked from Wanganui’s small Cullinane College and named in the New Zealand Schools training squad. The all-round sportsman was already well known in Wanganui, having played age-grade rugby. After school Cameron headed south to Lincoln University and into the Canterbury provincial team. He played one match for the Crusaders this year.
Born and bred in the Hawke’s Bay, 27-year-old loose forward Gareth Evans shifted south to Otago University to study and made the Otago provincial side in 2011 aged just 20 going on to play three years for the province, bringing an abrasive style and huge work rate to his game.
He was drafted into the Highlanders for the 2014 season, making 14 appearances in his debut year, before helping the side to their maiden Super Rugby title in 2015 and victory over the touring British & Irish Lions in 2017. The younger brother of 2009 All Black Bryn Evans, Gareth transferred to the Hurricanes in 2018 and quickly established himself as the first choice No 8.
Dynamic halfback Bryn Hall’s highly competitive nature and high-energy rugby makes him an asset in any team he plays for. 26-year-old Auckland-born Hall captained his St Peter’s College First XV, was co-captain of New Zealand Under 20 in 2012, and North Harbour provincial captain in 2015.
Hall made his provincial debut for North Harbour in 2012 and strong performances saw him selected for the Blues for the 2013 season. He spent four years with the Blues before transferring to the Crusaders in 2017 and a Championship-winning season. He also earned selection in the M?ori All Blacks during the 2017 DHL New Zealand Lions Series.
Tyrel Lomax grew up playing rugby league in Australia, before making the switch to rugby union.
The 22-year-old prop played his first year of Investec Super Rugby for the Melbourne Rebels in 2017, before returning to New Zealand.
He played for the Tasman Mako in that year’s Mitre 10 Cup and after a solid debut season was selected as one of 10 new caps in the M?ori All Blacks for their tour to Canada and France.
Lomax joined the Highlanders in 2018, making 15 appearances. Lomax played for Australian schoolboys in 2014 and the Australian U20 side the following year.
His father is former Kiwis rugby league prop John Lomax.
23-year-old Taranaki prop Reuben O’Neill has overcome injury and a diabetes diagnosis early in his career to take his rugby to the next level.
O’Neill was selected in the New Zealand Schools side in 2012 and then the Taranaki Mitre 10 Cup side in 2015 after successfully returning to rugby from a back injury. O’Neill was a member of the Taranaki side which upset Canterbury to take the Ranfurly Shield in 2017, alongside All Blacks teammate Angus Ta’avao.
He has continued to shore up the scrum so far this year and his strength and power in the front row has caught the attention of the All Blacks selectors.
A standout player for both the Hurricanes and the Wellington Lions provincial side, Matt Proctor made his Investec Super Rugby debut in 2013 and was a part of the Hurricanes side that secured their first Super Rugby title in 2016.
His Super season was cut short by injury this year but he returned to captain Wellington’s 2018 Mitre 10 Cup campaign. Proctor represented the M?ori All Blacks in ten appearances and his representative career also includes New Zealand Schools and New Zealand Under 20.
He is not the only Hurricanes player in the family, with younger brother Billy signing a five-year deal with the club this year.
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