After a lacklustre opening day performance against the NZ Barbarians and a demoralising loss against the Auckland Blues, The Lions are in desperate need of some good news. Unfortunately for them, it was quite the opposite today, as The All Blacks, NZ Maori and the Crusaders all named squads for their upcoming games. This choreographed show of strength just highlights the depth of talent on offer in New Zealand.
First up was the All Blacks with what Steve Hansen described as one of his toughest squad selections. A trio of Barrett brothers are joined by new cap Ngani Laumape and blues speedster Rieko Ioane.
Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Scott Barrett, Sam Cane, Dane Coles, Wyatt Crockett, Ryan Crotty, Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg, Charlie Faumuina, Owen Franks, Nathan Harris, Rieko Ioane, Jerome Kaino, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Joe Moody, Waisake Naholo, TJ Perenara, Kieran Read (captain), Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Ardie Savea, Julian Savea, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Liam Squire, Codie Taylor, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Sam Whitelock, Sonny Bill Williams.
NZ Maori squad
Next up came the Maori squad. The talent on show here is outrageous. McKenzie, Milner-Skudder & Messam were all unfortunate to miss out on the All Blacks squad and will be desperate to impress. Full squad below.
Chris Eves, Kane Hames, Mike Kainga, Ben May, Marcel Renata, Ash Dixon (c), Hika Elliot, Tom Franklin, Leighton Price, Joe Wheeler, Elliot Dixon, Akira Ioane, Liam Meesam, Reed Prinsep, Kara Pryor, Bryn Hall, Otere Black, Ihaia West, Tim Bateman, Charlie Ngatai, Matt Proctor, Rieko Ioane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Declan O’Donnell, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Damian McKenzie, James Lowe, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.
As if the two squads above weren’t daunting enough for Gats & Co, Scott Robertson heaped more pressure on the tourists by announcing a starting team for Saturday ladened with All Black talent.
1. Joe Moody 2. Codie Taylor 3. Owen Franks 4. Luke Romano 5. Sam Whitelock (c) 6. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis 7. Matt Todd (vc) 8. Jordan Taufua 9. Bryn Hall 10. Richie Mo’unga 11. George Bridge 12. David Havili 13. Jack Goodhue 14. Seta Tamanivalu 15. Israel Dagg. Reserves: 16. Ben Funnell 17. Wyatt Crockett 18. Michael Alaalatoa 19. Quinten Strange 20. Jed Brown 21. Mitchell Drummond 22. Mitchell Hunt 23. Tim Bateman.
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