All Blacks named Monday selectors four new players in the squad for the upcoming tests against Tonga and Fiji as they look to experiment and regain the world No.1 ranking.

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The 36-man squad included Highlanders mainstay Ethan de Groot, Crusaders forward Ethan Blackadder, Blues fullback Finlay Christie and Chiefs center Quinn Tupaea.

Coach Ian Foster also called Luke Jacobson and Angus Ta’avao back in the forwards, as well as crosses David Havili and Braydon Ennor, while imposing lock Brodie Retallick returns from a stint in Japan.

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Lock Sam Whitelock has been appointed captain in the absence of regular skipper Sam Cane, who is recovering from pectoral muscle surgery.

Forwards Ofa Tuungafasi and Joe Moody, center Jack Goodhue and half-back Folau Fakatava are also injured.

Sensational winger Caleb Clarke opted out of the Tests to aim for Olympic glory with the New Zealand seven-man squad in Tokyo.

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The All Blacks hope to play a 15 test schedule this year, including hosting Tonga and Fiji this month, the rugby championship and a tour of the northern hemisphere.

Foster said the busy schedule was a chance to experiment after last year’s fixture list was reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We actually have a year to plan a development program”, he said.

“Because there was a limited number of tests last year, we didn’t try to expand our game too much, but this year we have to develop it.”

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Foster said goals included becoming more aggressive on defense and more skilled on offense.

While the World Cup triumph is the ultimate goal, Foster said the All Blacks also want to retain the number one ranking they held for a decade before losing it last year.

“This is what we want, it’s been a while since we went”, said Foster, whose team is currently ranked second behind world champions South Africa.

“Everything we do is about pursuing this – how will we get there? Basically hard work and a real commitment to preparation across the group.

NEW ZEALAND TEAM

back

Finlay Christie, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, Braydon Ennor, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Will Jordan, Damian McKenzie, Sevu Reece

Before

Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, George Bower, Ethan de Groot, Nepo Laulala, Tyrel Lomax, Angus Ta’avao, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa’i, Samuel Whitelock (captain ), Ethan Blackadder, Shannon Frizell, Akira Ioane, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu

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Source: www.thesouthafrican.com
This notice was published: 2021-06-21 09:12:28

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