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All Blacks squad named for Steinlager Series - 6 new caps

allblacks.com     02 Jun 2013    

The squad is as follows: (with province and Test caps. New caps are in bold)

Forwards

Hookers
Dane Coles - Wellington (4)
Andrew Hore - Taranaki (74)
Keven Mealamu - Auckland (102)

Props
Ben Afeaki North Harbour

Wyatt Crockett - Canterbury (11)
Ben Franks - Hawke-s Bay (23)
Owen Franks - Canterbury (45)
Tony Woodcock - North Harbour (96)

Locks
Brodie Retallick - Bay of Plenty (13)
Luke Romano - Canterbury (11)
Jeremy Thrush - Wellington
Samuel Whitelock - Canterbury (39)

Loose Forwards
Sam Cane - Bay of Plenty (5)
Steven Luatua - Auckland
Liam Messam - Waikato (20)
Kieran Read, captain - Canterbury (48)
Victor Vito - Wellington (20)

Backs

Halfbacks

Tawera Kerr-Barlow - Waikato (2)
Aaron Smith - Manawatu (13)
Piri Weepu - Auckland (69)

First five–eighths
Beauden Barrett - Taranaki (5)
Daniel Carter - Canterbury (94)
Aaron Cruden - Manawatu (20)

Midfielders
Ma'a Nonu - Wellington (76)
Rene Ranger - Northland (3)
Francis Saili - North Harbour
Conrad Smith - Wellington (66)

Outside backs
Israel Dagg - Hawke's Bay (25)
Charles Piutau - Auckland
Julian Savea - Wellington (9)
Ben Smith - Otago (12)

Injury replacement:
Matt Todd - Canterbury


The 32-man squad features six new caps, including the exciting Blues backline duo of North Harbour’s Francis Saili and Aucklander Charles Piutau, while there are three new caps in the forwards: Chiefs and North Harbour prop Ben Afeaki, Blues and Auckland loose forward Steven Luatua and Hurricanes and Wellington lock Jeremy Thrush. Meanwhile, Crusaders loose forward Matt Todd will also come into the Steinlager Series squad as an injury replacement for lock Samuel Whitelock who is recovering from a broken finger and is expected to be available for the Third Test. The squad also features the return of Northland and Blues back Rene Ranger, who played three Tests in 2010.

Players unavailable for selection due to injury include Charlie Faumuina (calf) and Cory Jane (knee) as well as wider training group member Dominic Bird (shoulder).

Kieran Read will captain the Steinlager Series squad and Daniel Carter is vice–captain.

The backs - forwards split for the squad sees 18 forwards selected (three 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 905 Test caps. Versatility is the key in the backs with a number of players able to play in multiple positions.

The squad is made up of five Highlanders players, eight Crusaders, seven Hurricanes, six Chiefs and six Blues while provincial representation is led by Canterbury (seven players) with Wellington (six), Auckland (four), North Harbour (three), Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu (two); and Northland and Otago (one).

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “In picking the side, the selectors have looked at, firstly, a combination of Super Rugby form and past All Blacks form and secondly, getting the balance right between experience and new blood.

“In doing that, we have looked to take the opportunity to introduce six new players (including Matt Todd) and the selectors would like to congratulate those young men on being selected. That means we have introduced 15 new players to our environment in the last 12 months thus accomplishing one of our goals of having a mixture of experience and enthusiastic new faces.

“It’s now about consolidating and narrowing our focus for this three–match Test series against what will be a very good French side. They are a team never to be underestimated.”

Hansen said the Series also gave the All Blacks the opportunity to grow their on–field and off–field leadership with Kieran Read being announced as captain an example of this.

“The selectors would like to personally congratulate Kieran on this great honour for both him and his family.”

Hansen said as with any All Blacks squad selection, there were a number of players who were unlucky to miss out either through non–selection or injury.

“But I would like to emphasise that we as selectors believe that over time a number of these players will be seen in the black jersey so our message to these young men is to keep striving and be ready for your opportunity when it comes.”

France returns to New Zealand for the first time since the thrilling Rugby World Cup Final in 2011 and the first three–match Series in New Zealand since 1968.

The All Blacks squad assembles in Auckland today to prepare for the first Test next Saturday at Eden Park. The second Test is at Christchurch's AMI Stadium (Addington) on Saturday 15 June and the third Test at Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, on Saturday 22 June.

The David Gallaher Cup, which the All Blacks and France have been contesting since 2000, will again be on the line. The All Blacks are the current holders.

The new All Blacks - mini biographies

BEN AFEAKI is a formidable force in the Chiefs front row. He made his first–class debut at 19 years of age and was part of the World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 19 and Under 20 teams. He was a standout player for the Maori All Blacks on last year’s European Tour, captained North Harbour in the 2012 ITM Cup Championship and has also represented New Zealand in water polo.

STEVEN LUATUA’s selection in the All Blacks recognises the impact the powerful young loose forward has made so far this season, his debut season in Super Rugby.
He made his first class debut in 2010 at 19 years old and in 2011 was part of the Junior World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 20 side alongside a number of his new All Blacks teammates.

CHARLES PIUTAU is a fleet-footed fullback and one of the fastest men in New Zealand rugby. Piutau was part of the 2011 Junior World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 20 team – he was the team’s top try scorer - and he also starred for the All Blacks Sevens team that won the World Series in 2011/12.

FRANCIS SAILI, who has been turning out at second five-eighth for the Blues in 2013, has earned All Blacks selection with a bustling display of strength and skill in the midfield. Saili is another new All Black who was part of the New Zealand Under 20 team that won the Junior World Championship in Italy in 2011.

JEREMY THRUSH, with close to 200 first class matches under his belt, brings plenty of experience to the All Blacks pack. He is now in his sixth season with the Hurricanes and captained Wellington last year. Thrush was the IRB Under 19 Player of the Year in 2004 and has also played for the Junior All Blacks.

MATT TODD. The injury replacement player has had an outstanding 2013 Super Rugby season with the openside flanker adding a strong ball-carrying game to the outstanding defensive skills. Todd played First XV rugby alongside Owen Franks and has won three ITM Cup titles with Canterbury. He joined the All Blacks training squad in the latter stages of Rugby World Cup 2011.

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
Brian "Aussie" McLean – Defence Coach
Mick Byrne – Skills Coach
Alistair Rogers - Performance Analyst
Dr Tony Page – Doctor
Peter Gallagher – Physiotherapist
George Duncan – Manual Therapist
Dr Nic Gill – Strength and Conditioning Coach
Katrina Darry – Nutritionist
Errol Collins – Logistics
Joe Locke – Media Manager
Bianca Thiel – Executive Assistant

Steinlager Series – Get to the game!

1ST TEST, All Blacks v France, Saturday 8 June, Eden Park, Auckland.
ALMOST SOLD OUT! Last tickets still available from ticketmaster 0800 111 999

2ND TEST, All Blacks v France, Saturday 15 June, AMI Stadium (Addington), Christchurch. SELLING FAST! Last tickets on sale this Tuesday from ticketdirect 0800 224 224

3RD TEST, All Blacks v France, Saturday 22 June, Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth SELLING QUICKLY! Get your tickets from ticketdirect 0800 224 224