All Blacks apprenticeship for hookers continues

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James Mortimer     10 Sep 2013     Getty Images

While Keven Mealamu and Andrew Hore are the elder statesmen of the World Champions, they boast roughly 180-Test matches worth of experience between them, and the All Blacks are ensuring that the first and third capped hookers in their proud history (Sean Fitzpatrick is second) are sharing nearly two decades of graft at the highest level to the next generation.

While the likes of Coltman, Marshall and Harris may not be household names to some outside of New Zealand, they are well known to locals.

Harris was part of the New Zealand Under-20s program last year, and is a former number eight, having converted himself at Tauranga Boys School.

With extensive game time for the Bay of Plenty and Chiefs Under-18 teams, Harris wasn’t involved in Super Rugby in 2013 but Steve Hansen told Newstalk ZB that he was one of many up and rising hookers that were on the radar for the All Blacks.

“He's an under-20 player and a young guy,” he said.

“We like the look of him. We're just having a look at as many people as we can, really.”

"We're getting to know them and seeing what they're like. They're certainly getting something out of it. If you spoke to the two boys who have already been in I think they've enjoyed their experience. It's a two-way thing."

The young hookers have not only spent time with the squad, but have been rooming with the likes of Mealamu and Hore, ensuring that all habits of an international rake are being picked up by players who might be competing for a place on the All Blacks Air New Zealand end of year tour.