Topic: Rugby

Steve Hansen names ABs squad for European Tour

By Online News - Rereātea

The All Blacks team has been selected for the Vista 2017 All Blacks Northern Tour to the UK and Europe for Tests against France, Scotland and Wales and matches against the Barbarians and a France XV.

Four uncapped players will make an appearance, including 20-year-old Wellington hooker Asafo Aumua; skilful North Harbour outside back Matt Duffie; and physical Tasman prop Tim Perry and talented Northland midfielder Jack Goodhue, who both trained with the All Blacks squad earlier this year. 

Several players weren't considered for selection for the tour due to long-term injury and other reasons, including hooker Liam Coltman, props Owen Franks and Joe Moody, lock Brodie Retallick, and outside backs Jordie Barrett, Israel Dagg, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Ben Smith.

The squad is as follows:

Forwards:
   
Hookers
Asafo Aumua (20, Wellington, uncapped)
Dane Coles (30, Wellington, 55)
Nathan Harris (25, Bay of Plenty, 9)
Codie Taylor (26, Canterbury, 25)

Props
Wyatt Crockett (34, Canterbury, 68)
Kane Hames (29, Tasman, 6)
Nepo Laulala (26, Counties Manukau, 10)
Tim Perry (29, Tasman, uncapped)
Jeffery Toomaga-Allen (26, Wellington, 1)
Ofa Tu'ungafasi (25, Auckland, 11)

Locks
Scott Barrett (23, Taranaki, 14)
Luke Romano (31, Canterbury, 29)
Patrick Tuipulotu (24, Auckland, 15)
Samuel Whitelock (29, Canterbury, 93)

Loose Forwards
Sam Cane (25, Bay of Plenty, 50)
Vaea Fifita (25, Wellington, 3)
Jerome Kaino (34, Auckland, 74)
Kieran Read, captain (31, Counties Manukau, 107)
Ardie Savea (24, Wellington, 21)
Liam Squire (26, Tasman, 12)
Matt Todd (29, Canterbury, 10)

Backs:
    
Halfbacks
Tawera Kerr-Barlow (27, Waikato, 24)
TJ Perenara (25, Wellington, 39)
Aaron Smith (28, Manawatu, 68)
    
First five-eighths
Beauden Barrett (26, Taranaki, 59)
Lima Sopoaga (26, Southland, 13)
   
Midfielders
Ryan Crotty (29, Canterbury, 32)
Jack Goodhue (22, Northland, uncapped)
Ngani Laumape (24, Manawatu, 4)
Anton Lienert-Brown (22, Waikato, 19)
Sonny Bill Williams (32, Counties Manukau, 43)
    
Outside backs
David Havili (22, Tasman, 3)
Matt Duffie (27, North Harbour, uncapped)
Rieko Ioane (20, Auckland, 10)
Damian McKenzie (22, Waikato, 9)
Waisake Naholo (26, Taranaki, 15)
Seta Tamanivalu (25, Taranaki, 3)

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said, "The selectors would firstly like to congratulate all players selected for the Vista 2017 All Blacks Northern Tour, especially Asafo, Tim, Matt and Jack who are named in an All Blacks squad for the first time. We have a talented squad made up of experienced players and a large group of newer All Blacks and this tour will be another exciting opportunity for them."

Hansen said the All Blacks had three major aims they wanted to achieve on the tour.

"Firstly, we want to play attractive rugby that we can be proud of and, of course, winning is part of that. But, just as importantly, will be re-establishing the processes that allow us to do this.

"Secondly, we have another opportunity to expose our young players to Test rugby. Whilst we've won the Investec Rugby Championship and retained the Bledisloe Cup, the last couple of months has also enabled us to introduce that large group of younger players to international rugby and, in doing so, grow their understanding of what's required to prepare and perform at the highest level.

"Adding the four new players to our squad will again allow us to expose more young talent to the highest level, where, history tells us, players grow and get better. So this tour will complete a season of building depth and experience, which in the long run, will only benefit the team.

"Our third aim is to thoroughly enjoy touring the Northern Hemisphere and its different cultures.  We want to engage as much as we can with the people in the countries we visit and be great ambassadors for the game of rugby and New Zealand."

The Vista 2017 All Blacks Northern Tour:

1. vs THE BARBARIANS, Saturday 4 November, Twickenham, LONDON
Kick-off: 2.30PM BST (NZT: 2.30AM, Sunday 5 November)

2. vs. FRANCE, Saturday 11 November, Stade de France, PARIS
Kick-off: 8.45PM CET (NZT: 7.45AM, Sunday 12 November)

3. vs. FRANCE XV, Tuesday 14 November, Parc Olympique Lyonnais, LYON
Kick-off 6.55PM CET (NZT: 5.55AM, Wednesday, 15 November)

4. vs. SCOTLAND, Saturday 18 November, Murrayfield, EDINBURGH
Kick-off: 3.00PM BST (NZT: 3.00AM, Sunday 19 November, NZT)

5. vs. WALES, Saturday 25 November, Millennium Stadium, CARDIFF
Kick-off: 5.15PM BST (NZT: 5.15AM, Sunday 26 November, NZT)