The All Blacks Rugby Championship campaign
More than anywhere else in the world, sports are currently flourishing in New Zealand, thanks to their effective and competent handling of the public health crisis of the last 18 months. New Zealand was able to resume normal sports spectatorship and events sooner than nearly any other country in the world.
The head start that New Zealand sports got from opening earlier than everyone else is likely to have an impact on the performance of their national teams. It will be interesting to gauge the performance of New Zealand national teams against other national teams in a range of different sports and compare how the country’s early start affects its athletes and teams.
While sports in New Zealand have thrived, other activities, hobbies and pastimes that can be enjoyed online have exploded in popularity. Online sports betting and gambling is an activity that has massively grown in popularity over the course of the last 18 months. Many novice and veteran gamblers are starting to place bets online and play online casino games for the first time ever, and have realised that online casinos and sports betting platforms are just as fun and exciting – and much more convenient – than traditional brick-and-mortar gambling and betting establishments.
All Blacks team leadership and selection
The All Blacks have named their 36-player squad and a number of the names have drawn attention to the team. One of the most talked about aspects of the team is the return of TJ Perenara to the national team. Perenara recently returned from Japan and he is working on a progressive return to a club rugby programme, followed by the Bunnings Warehouse NPC.
During this transitionary period of Perenara, Finlay Christie will remain as the temporary cover for the All Blacks championship squad. This is also an interesting choice, as Finlay Christie is a new addition to the All Blacks.
Notable elements of the All Blacks championship squad
Also of note is the return of two props: Ofa Tuungafasi and Joe Moody. Both Tuungafasi and Moody are returning to the All Blacks team. However, Moody’s expected return date to test rugby is not until after the Bledisloe Cup Series has wrapped up, due to his injuries. Instead, during this time, prop George Bower will stay with the All Blacks team in order to cover for Moody while he recuperates and works on his return to form.
Similarly, hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho will be staying with the All Blacks team to cover for Asafo Aumua. Aumua missed the last two test matches of the Steinlager Series, however, he may be able to play in the opening round of the upcoming Bunnings Warehouse NPC with the aim of developing his strength and building upon his fitness for matches.
Also working on his match fitness is midfielder Braydon Ennor. Ennor missed the entire Steinlager Series because he had to undergo surgery for appendicitis and was then forced to take time out from rugby to recover from the operation.
Another player who is unfortunately out of commission as a result of surgery is Sam Cane. Cane is the captain of the All Blacks but due to his surgery he had to temporarily step aside. Instead, 125-test lock Samuel Whitelock took up the mantle and captained the team in his absence. Whitelock will again serve as the captain of the All Blacks for the championship squad as Cane continues his recovery from surgery. Jack Goodhue is another All Blacks player who was also not considered for selection in the championship squad due to injury.
Looking ahead to the championship
Sports analysts are looking forward to the championship, as many of the players will be in top form. The Steinlager Series has arguably given the All Blacks a good opportunity for developing as a team without the players who are absent due to health-related matters. Players have been able to establish themselves and get a better sense of how they can work within the fabric of the All Blacks team.
While it will be an interesting season, it is unfortunate that so many of the All Blacks’ top players could not be considered for the championship squad as a result of injury or recovery times following surgery. It will be interesting for fans to watch the team adjust to the notable absences on the field and work through whatever challenges they continue to face as a national team.