All Blacks squad named for 2014 Steinlager Series
Two new players selected while two loose forwards return
The All Blacks selectors, Head Coach Steve Hansen, Assistant Coach Ian Foster and former All Black Grant Fox have named their squad for the three Steinlager Series Tests against England, with the key feature the selection of two new players and the return of two loose forwards to the national side.
The squad is as follows: (with province, Investec Super Rugby team and Test caps. Uncapped players are in bold)
Dane Coles (Wellington / Hurricanes, 15)
Keven Mealamu (Auckland / Blues, 110)
Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury / Crusaders, 24)
Charlie Faumuina (Auckland / Blues 17)
Ben Franks (Hawke’s Bay / Hurricanes, 31)
Owen Franks (Canterbury, Crusaders, 54)
Tony Woodcock (North Harbour/ Blues, 107)
Dominic Bird (Canterbury / Crusaders, 1)
Brodie Retallick (Bay of Plenty, Chiefs, 24)
Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland / Blues)
Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury/ Crusaders, 51)
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty, Chiefs, 14)
Jerome Kaino (Auckland / Blues, 48)
Richie McCaw (c) (Canterbury / Crusaders, 124)
Liam Messam (Waikato / Chiefs, 29)
Kieran Read (Canterbury, Crusaders, 61)
Victor Vito (Wellington / Hurricanes, 22)
Tawera Kerr–Barlow (Waikato / Chiefs, 14)
TJ Perenara (Wellington / Hurricanes)
Aaron Smith (Manawatu / Highlanders, 26)
Beauden Barrett (Taranaki / Hurricanes, 16)
Aaron Cruden (Manawatu / Chiefs, 29)
Colin Slade (Canterbury / Crusaders (11)
Ryan Crotty (Canterbury / Crusaders, 5)
Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland / Highlanders)
Ma’a Nonu (Wellington / Blues, 88)
Conrad Smith (Wellington / Hurricanes, 75)
Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay / Crusaders, 38)
Cory Jane (Wellington / Hurricanes, 45)
Julian Savea (Wellington / Hurricanes, 20)
Ben Smith (Otago / Highlanders, 26)
The 31–man squad features the selection of two new players: outstanding midfielder Malakai Fekitoa who has had a breakout season with the Highlanders this year and athletic Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu. The squad also features the return of 48-Test veteran and Blues loose forward Jerome Kaino, who returns to the national side after a stint in Japan, as well as Hurricanes loose forward Victor Vito.
The backs – forwards split sees 17 forwards selected (two hookers, five props, four locks and six loose forwards) and 14 backs (three halfbacks, three first five–eighths, four midfielders and four outside backs) and the squad has a combined total of 1,125 Test caps.
The squad is made up of five Blues players, five Chiefs, eight Hurricanes, nine Crusaders and three Highlanders while ten of New Zealand’s provinces are represented, with eight Canterbury players, seven from Wellington, five from Auckland, two each from Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay, with one player each for North Harbour, Taranaki and Otago.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said the All Blacks selectors had been happy with the form of players across all of the New Zealand Super Rugby teams.
“We would like to congratulate all the players selected for the first All Blacks squad of the year, particularly Patrick and Malakai who have been named for the first time. It’s an exciting time for them and their families and they can be rightly proud of their selection. They have worked hard for it. We would also like to congratulate Jerome and Victor, who are returning after an absence from the group.
“The All Blacks selectors feel it’s also important to acknowledge those players who have missed out. As always, there are more quality players available than we are able to select. Our message to them is to keep working hard, because in this game, the opportunities will always come.
“In selecting our squad, once again we have tried to balance experience and youth with form in Super Rugby and proven performances in the All Black jersey.”
Hansen added: “England have been the most improved side in world rugby in the last two years. Their coach Stuart Lancaster has built depth in his side and a strong culture, so they will be a formidable opponent and one we are very excited about playing.
“The Steinlager Series gives both teams a great opportunity to put a stake in the ground, not only this year, but also for Rugby World Cup 2015. This will add to the pressure on both sides in the upcoming Series.
“Those who think England will be fielding a weak side in the first Test are completely underestimating the quality of depth in the England squad. Make no mistake, England have a very strong desire and belief that they can win this Series. Having said that, so do the All Blacks. We acknowledge that this is going to be a huge challenge but look forward to taking it head on.”
Hansen also said that this Series was important for the All Blacks to show improvements in their game and raise the quality of their performance to higher levels in all areas.
Players unavailable for selection due to injury include Blues duo Francis Saili (ankle) and Charles Piutau (knee) and Crusaders lock Luke Romano (ankle), while All Blacks first five-eighth Daniel Carter, who is on extended leave, was also unavailable.
Meanwhile, the All Blacks will continue with their hooker “apprentice programme” during the Steinlager Series, with Chiefs hooker Nathan Harris assembling with the squad for the Auckland and Hamilton Test weeks and Highlanders rake Liam Coltman in for Dunedin week.
The All Blacks squad assembled in Auckland today to prepare for the first Test against the English next Saturday at Eden Park. The second Test is at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, on Saturday 14 June and the third Test at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, on Saturday 21 June.
The All Blacks and England have a rivalry going back more than 100 years. The two sides have played 36 times since 1905 with 28 wins to the All Blacks, seven losses and one draw. The teams last played in London on last year’s European Tour with the All Blacks winning 30-22 on that occasion.
The new All Blacks – mini biographies
MALAKAI FEKITOA. 2014 has been an incredible year for Malakai Fekitoa, who has made an electrifying start to his Super Rugby career with explosive power and abrasive defence for the Highlanders. A product of Wesley College, which also produced All Blacks Jonah Lomu and Frank Halai, Fekitoa is also a talented sevens player and was Player of the Tournament at the 2011 National Sevens.
PATRICK TUIPULOTU. An exciting young lock, Tuipulotu is another new All Black who has also just made the step up to Investec Super Rugby and has thrilled rugby fans with his physicality and aerial skills. Tuipulotu is the most recent All Black to come from the notable Ponsonby club in Auckland and the first of the 2013 New Zealand Under 20 side to be named as a full member of the All Blacks squad.
Steinlager Series Tests against England
1. Eden Park, Auckland, 7.35PM, Saturday 7 June
2. Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, 7.35PM, Saturday 14 June
3. Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, 7.35PM, Saturday 21 June
All Blacks fan events!
The All Blacks will be making two special appearances in Dunedin and Hamilton at the start of each Test week during the Steinlager Series, with Auckland fans able to get their chance to see the team when they return for the Investec Rugby Championship. They will be taking part in a fun-filled show dubbed The All Blacks Rugby Experience. It will be hosted by Small Blacks TV and Random Rugby’s Nua Finau and Makere Bradnam. There will be prizes, videos, gags and games to entertain fans. Entry is free. The Dunedin event will be held on Monday 9 June at the Dunedin Town Hall from 3.30Pm to 5.00Pm while the Hamilton event will be on Monday 16 June at the same time. The venue is still to be confirmed so keep an eye on the Public Appearances page on allblacks.com.
All Blacks Management
Steve Hansen – Head Coach / Selector
Ian Foster – Assistant Coach / Selector
Grant Fox – Selector
Darren Shand – Manager
Gilbert Enoka – Assistant Manager
Mike Cron – Forwards Coach
Mick Byrne – Skills Coach
Brian “Aussie” McLean – Analyst
Alistair Rogers – Performance Analyst
Dr Nic Gill – Strength and Conditioning Coach
Dr Tony Page – Doctor
Peter Gallagher – Physiotherapist
George Duncan – Manual Therapist
Katrina Darry – Nutritionist
Joe Locke – Media Manager
Kevin “Chalky” Carr – Logistics Manager
Bianca Thiel – Team Services Manager
The All Blacks With a history extending back to the 1880s, New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks, is not only the most successful international rugby team of all time but also one of the most successful teams in world sport, with a winning Test record of more than 76 per cent.
The All Blacks play European opponents every year in the Steinlager Series and again at the end of the year, and play Argentina, Australia and South Africa annually in the Investec Rugby Championship.
The All Blacks were crowned Rugby World Cup Champions in 2011 to add to their Webb Ellis Cup win in the inaugural Tournament in 1987 and in 2013 became the first international team in the professional era to go through the season unbeaten. The team has been named the IRB Team of the Year a record seven times.