All Blacks XV heralds a new era for New Zealand rugby

GettyImages 1403165375

The side will become part of the high-performance pathway for the All Blacks.

Coach Leon MacDonald (Blues) will have Clayton McMillan (Chiefs) and Scott Hansen (Crusaders) as his assistants and said he was excited about the squad.

The tour would showcase the depth available in the game in New Zealand while also giving the players a lift up to challenge for All Blacks berths.

MacDonald said all of the eight All Blacks selected would be keen to show the selectors their worth ahead of the World Cup, and they had also indicated their preparedness to help the younger players named in their development.

The All Blacks included are: captain and lock Patrick Tuipulotu (29), props Aidan Ross (26) and Angus Ta'avao (32), hooker Asafo Aumua (25), loose forward Luke Jacobson (25), halfbacks TJ Perenara (30) and Brad Weber (31) and first five-eighths Damian McKenzie (27).

While the All Blacks selectors chose the squad, MacDonald was involved in discussions.

"It gives this tour even more meaning knowing that the All Blacks selectors have these players in their sights. It gives them [the players] a boost, and the opportunity to perform in front of them."

The side showed what the selectors were looking for in terms of depth in the side, and it was a great opportunity for players to keep the pressure on for places in next year's World Cup squad.

He said the tour coaches would have autonomy in how they wanted to play.

MacDonald said while there were only four of his Blues players in the side, he was looking forward to working with other players who had been around the traps for some time.

"It’s a great opportunity for us to do something a little different, to travel, and experience a different culture. The games we are playing in Dublin and London are pretty amazing, so it is going to be a great tour."

MacDonald said he had seen Hurricanes utility back Ruben Love, 21, over the last two years and his selection was a reward for how he had been playing.

Canterbury hooker George Bell, 20, was another who impressed during the NPC with some dynamic play.

While all teams wearing the silver fern liked to win, MacDonald said he wanted to develop a good culture within the side. He wanted the players to enjoy the experience and put a couple of good performances on the park, so they could enjoy what they achieved.

He was confident they would have the time to mould a culture. It was something the Maori All Blacks did all the time, and he would have Clayton McMillan in the coaching group to help in that area.

While it was not something he had done before, he accepted the challenge.

"We'll find our way, and what drives us and what is going to motivate us to put in the performances we have to," he said.

The side assembles on October 28, after the completion of the Bunnings NPC, and will travel to Dublin to play Ireland on November 4 and against the Barbarians in London on November 13.


View all