All Blacks training squad announced

Probably our first crop of youngsters to compare with the 2011 U20s (Brodie, Beauden, Cane, Piutau, Taylor, Luatua, Weber, TJP, Naholo, Anscombe, Tameifuna and, um, Soapy and Shields. Here’s a few names you are likely to become familiar with:

6. Cullen Grace 20yo. We’ve struggled at 6 since Kaino retired but this guy will be special. 6’4”, concrete shoulders, abrasive, great spring, massive engine.

8. Hoskins Sotutu 22yo. You’ll see him stride down the touch line and offload in a three man tackle in these highlights, but he’s also got Zinzan like skills. Calm head for a kid too.

14/15. Will Jordan 22yo. He just makes things happen in ways the opposition aren’t expecting. Fast, good in the air, prolific. See his two tries in these highlights, one sharp poach and one textbook leap to win the game in the 84th minute.

11. Caleb Clarke 21yo. The sevens star is a stocky ball of flying muscle reminiscent of Inga the Winger.

5. Tupou Vaa’i 20yo. Just an impressive young man. Former head prefect at Wesley College, he was thrown into the deep end at the Chiefs when all locks over the age of 21 were injured and nothing seemed to phase him.

Of the names you’ll already know, Reiko Ioane has returned to his schoolboy position of 13 and his outside break and strength are complemented good distribution and decision making. Big brother Akira is finally meeting his potential too.

Big lock Patrick Tuipulotu was given the Blues captaincy and leadership agrees with him. He’s finally putting that power to good use too.

Jordie Barrett has taken ownership of the Hurricanes back line since Beauden left and seems to have cut out those brain fades. Goal kicking very well too – interesting that he and DMac took the kicks on Saturday. DMac was back to his best on Saturday too, including later on at ten.

Beauden got the back line moving very well on Saturday, something I’ve not always been convinced of. Mo’unga was average though as was Tu’inukuafe.

Here are the highlights and the squad. Some very classy tries.

Hookers: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor. Props: Alex Hodgman, Nepo Laulala, Tyrel Lomax, Joe Moody, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi. Locks: Quinten Strange, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa’i, Sam Whitelock. Loose forwards: Sam Cane (captain), Shannon Frizell, Cullen Grace, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu. Halfbacks: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber. First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga. Midfielders: Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown. Outside backs: Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Caleb Clarke, Will Jordan, Damian McKenzie, Sevu Reece.

All Blacks – decline and fall or the dawn of a new golden era?

Interesting and in depth look at the failings of the ABs in the last RWC cycle culninating in Hansen being comprehensively out-thought by Jones in the Semi, the prospects for them moving forwards under a Head Coach not widely wanted by the public, and the wider state of the game in NZ and the elite player pathways.

Very interesting read, particularly as it is set out dispassionately rather than looking to promote a certain agenda.

Be interesting to hear the views of our SH contingent.

ALL BLACKS V’s South Africa

The matchday 23 is as follows (with Test caps in brackets) – pretty predictable selections, with Ben Smith covering Fullback if Mo’unga is pulled and Beauden moves into 10 or on one of the wings. Ioane will need to score 10 tries against each of Italy, Canada and Namibia to get a look-in if Reece and Bridge maintain their current forms..

1. Joe Moody (41)

2. Dane Coles (64)

3. Nepo Laulala (20)

4. Samuel Whitelock (112)

5. Scott Barrett (32)

6. Ardie Savea (34)

7. Sam Cane (63)

8. Kieran Read – captain (122)

9. Aaron Smith (87)

10. Richie Mo’unga (12)

11. George Bridge (5)

12. Ryan Crotty (45)

13. Anton Lienert-Brown (38)

14. Sevu Reece (3)

15. Beauden Barrett (78)

16. Codie Taylor (45)

17. Ofa Tuungafasi (30)

18. Angus Ta’avao (8)

19. Patrick Tuipulotu (25)

20. Shannon Frizell (5)

21. TJ Perenara (59)

22. Sonny Bill Williams (53)

23. Ben Smith (80)

ALL BLACKS 23 FOR TONGA TEST

No Rieko Ioane in the 23 – something’s off with him methinks. Otherwise, this looks to be 99% of the team to play South Africa in the RWC9 opening match.

1. Joe Moody (40)

2. Codie Taylor (44)

3. Nepo Laulala (19)

4. Patrick Tuipulotu (24)

5. Samuel Whitelock (111)

6. Ardie Savea (38)

7. Matt Todd (20)

8. Kieran Read – captain (121)

9. TJ Perenara (58)

10. Beauden Barrett (77)

11. George Bridge (4)

12. Ryan Crotty (44)

13. Anton Lienert-Brown (37)

14. Sevu Reece (2)

15. Ben Smith (79)

16. Liam Coltman (5)

17. Ofa Tuungafasi (29)

18. Angus Ta’avao (7)

19. Scott Barrett (30)

20. Luke Jacobson (1)

21. Aaron Smith (86)

22. Josh Ioane *

23. Jordie Barrett (11)

ALL BLACKS 31 FOR RWC9

Owen Franks, Ngani Laumape and Liam Squires have missed out, with the latter omissions on stand-by as back-up. The rest of the squad was fairly predictable:

FORWARDS
PROPS:
Angus Ta’avao
Joe Moody
Nepo Laulala
Ofa Tuungafasi
Atunaisa Moli

HOOKERS:
Codie Taylor
Dane Coles
Liam Coltman

LOCKS
Brodie Retallick
Samuel Whitelock
Patrick Tuipulotu
Scott Barrett

LOOSIES
Ardie Savea
Luke Jacobson
Kieran Read
Matt Todd
Sam Cane

HALFBACKS
Aaron Smith
TJ Perenara
Brad Weber

BACKS
Anton Lienert-Brown
Beauden Barrett
Ben Smith
George Bridge
Jack Goodhue
Jordie Barrett
Ryan Crotty
Richie Mo’unga
Rieko Ioane
Sevuloni Reece
Sonny Bill Williams