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Why Shaun Stevenson initially missed out on the All Blacks’ squad

By Finn Morton
(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

To the surprise of many rugby fans in New Zealand, Chiefs flyer Shaun Stevenson was a shock omission from the All Blacks’ initial 36-player squad for the Rugby Championship.

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Stevenson has been nothing short of sensational for the Chiefs this season, and has widely been considered a likely bolter ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup.

But, despite scoring 11 tries in 17 games this season for the Chiefs, Stevenson was overlooked for the All Blacks’ first squad of 2023.

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Teammate Emoni Narawa was selected as one of the All Blacks’ outside backs, and is also one of five uncapped players in the squad.

Chiefs flanker Samipeni Finau was also selected, along with Crusaders duo Tamaiti Williams and Dallas McLeod, and also Hurricanes halfback Cam Roigard.

But Stevenson has been called into the team as injury cover for winger Mark Telea, and coach Ian Foster hinted that the 26-year-old may play a role in “those first two Tests.”

“He’s find out when he comes in,” Foster told Sky Sport. “We’ve got pretty specific job requirements on both sides of the ball.

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“On the attack side, he’s proven to be outstanding. He should be very proud of his year.

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“We’ve seen a massive improvement in the defensive structural stuff – the tackle and the contact work – but we still want to see a bit more in that space.

“The fact he’s going to come in and be with us, maybe for those first two Tests, is a great opportunity to get a good read of that.”

The All Blacks begin their Rugby Championship campaign against Los Pumas in Argentina next month, before returning to New Zealand to face the Springboks in Auckland.

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Comments

2 Comments
G
G 391 days ago

The reason is that Foster is an insecure coach who wants to show "I know better" and since virtually everyone believes that he is the in-form back in NZ today, foster decided to show that he knows better. Defense? Has he seen Clarke jump out of line, compromise the blues alignment and miss tackles?

P
Poe 391 days ago

Hard to imagine he won't get a few tests this year. Narawa also

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William 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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