New head coach Ian Foster named a 35-man squad earlier this month but the selectors may need to extend their reach ahead of the South Hemisphere’s premier international competition.
With mandatory quarantines necessary for any injury call-ups, South Africa, Argentina and New Zealand will likely try and rely only on the players they initially bring with them to Australia late next month.
According to Newshub, 11 extra All Blacks will be brought into camp to bring the total number of players selected in the squad up to 46. Not all 46 will necessarily travel to Australia in October at the same time, however, as some players may choose not to feature for the entire Rugby Championship – which could take them away from their families for up to two and a half months.
Spending over one-sixth of the year away from home would be a daunting prospect for anyone, let alone the squad members who have young families.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 12, 2020
TJ Perenara and Richie Mo’unga have recently become fathers while Beauden Barrett is expecting his first child next month. They’ve as good excuses as anyone for not wanting to spend 10 weeks in Australia and New Zealand Rugby will likely take a lenient approach with players, given the unprecedented circumstances.
“We want to make sure whoever is representing the All Blacks does so in a safe environment where they feel happy and comfortable,” NZR chief executive Mark Robinson said on Friday.
“We are hugely supportive of our players. We know they have gone through an incredibly tough time this year. This challenge of what they are about to undertake is going to be significant and we will back them and their families in whatever way we need to ensure they are looked after. If that means they are unable to assemble or travel we’ll hear that out and support that.”
Bringing in more players could prove welcome news for the men who narrowly missed out on the All Blacks squad. The likes of Josh Ioane, Mitch Dunshea and Lachlan Boshier all excelled during Super Rugby Aotearoa but didn’t quite crack the team – that could all change if Foster expands the squad by almost a third.
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