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Three players receive unanimous support as All Blacks bolters

By Ned Lester
Levi Aumua. (Photo by Brett Phibbs/Photosport)

The All Blacks‘ Rugby Championship squad is five days away from being announced, with June 18 being the magic date for All Black hopefuls to potentially have their dreams fulfilled.

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Injuries and a slightly increased squad size compared to the World Cup requirements will offer a number of fringe players opportunities in the All Blacks environment throughout The Rugby Championship.

Ian Foster has confirmed his interest in several potential newcomers, and his thoughts were shared by pundits on The Breakdown this week.

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Former All Blacks Mils Muliaina and Jeff Wilson were joined by former All Black Sevens star Karl Te Nana on the panel and delivered their preferred selections.

Shaun Stevenson was one of three players to receive unanimous support from the trio, getting selected in the outside backs.

Crusaders prop Tamiati Williams has also won the favour of all three pundits, having showcased his strength on both sides of the scrum throughout the 2023 season.

The final unanimous bolter was Moana Pasifika’s Levi Aumua, the destructive midfielder who has made his All Black aspirations known and, like the aforementioned talent, could well be in line for a promotion from the All Blacks XV side he represented in 2022.

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Beyond the unanimous calls, there were some reservations about the All Blacks’ depth heading into the World Cup.

Despite the form of young fringe players such as Samipeni Finau, Emoni Narawa and Cam Roigard, New Zealand’s international-level player stocks are looking depleted. Injuries to some experienced campaigners are causing concern so close to the international season.

“Prop was a position where I couldn’t get my sixth (player) if I needed one,” Jeff Wilson said, before listing three capped All Black props who are currently out with injuries.

“There could be an opportunity for somebody but there’s a number of positions for me where I found it difficult to find the next guy, the next standout player.”

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Comments

5 Comments
M
Michael 395 days ago

The reality is ABs have no chance to win RWC23 - under Foster we will have a number of new "firsts" to go along with:

  • first test lost to Argentina
  • first home test lost to Argentina
  • first home test lost to Ireland
  • first home series lost to Ireland
  • first time 20+ points scored against ABs in final 10 mins (England)
The new firsts unfortunately will be:
  • first loss in a pool game at RWC - France
  • first exit at quarter final stage at RWC - either Ireland or Boks
Furthermore Fosters AB team will be shattered from the stupidly designed Super Rugby season - basically there is little REST PERIOD for semi-finalists (three NZ teams) and finalists (at least one NZ team) before the Condensed Rugby Championship - Boks, Home Nations teams and AUS will have basically 1 month off before a month of team training / alignment and warm up games.

NZRU are really clueless....

J
Jmann 396 days ago

Roigard is a certainty. Frankly he looks like NZ's next long term HB

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