The All Blacks selectors, Steve Hansen, Ian Foster and Grant Fox, have selected their squad 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.
The squad is as follows (with age, province and Test caps in brackets)
Asafo Aumua (20, Wellington, uncapped)
Dane Coles (30, Wellington, 55)
Nathan Harris (25, Bay of Plenty, 9)
Codie Taylor (26, Canterbury, 25)
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)
Scott Barrett (23, Taranaki, 14)
Luke Romano (31, Canterbury, 29)
Patrick Tuipulotu (24, Auckland, 15)
Samuel Whitelock (29, Canterbury, 93)
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)
Tawera Kerr–Barlow (27, Waikato, 24)
TJ Perenara (25, Wellington, 39)
Aaron Smith (28, Manawatu, 68)
Beauden Barrett (26, Taranaki, 59)
Lima Sopoaga (26, Southland, 13)
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)
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)
The squad features four uncapped players: dynamic 20-year-old Wellington hooker Asafo Aumua; talented North Harbour outside back Matt Duffie; and Tasman prop Tim Perry and 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.
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.
“The make-up of the Tour, with three Tests against France, Scotland and Wales, as well as matches against the Barbarians and the French XV, means we have the opportunity to come up against a range of different opposition and playing styles which will be exciting and a great learning experience.
“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.”
Hansen said six All Blacks, who have carried heavy workloads this year, will not play the Barbarians match. They will spend a few more days at home to freshen up and join the All Blacks touring squad later next week. Those players are Captain Kieran Read, hooker Dane Coles, prop Wyatt Crockett, lock Samuel Whitelock, and midfielders Anton Lienert-Brown and Sonny Bill Williams.
As well as the 37-man squad, the All Blacks selectors have also announced that five additional players will play for the Barbarians in the first match of the Vista Northern Tour and then assemble with the All Blacks for the French leg of the tour.
Those players are Otago loose forward Dillon Hunt, Waikato prop Atunaisa Moli, who has trained with the All Blacks squad this year, Canterbury halfback Mitchell Drummond and his provincial teammate Richie Mo’unga, who was called into the All Blacks squad in Brisbane last week as cover; and Canterbury and two-Test All Blacks lock Dominic Bird.
The makeup of the 37-man squad sees 21 forwards selected (four hookers, six props, four locks and seven loose forwards) and 16 backs (three halfbacks, two first five–eighths, five midfielders and six outside backs) and has a total of 954 Test caps experience, an average of 26 Test caps per player and average age of 25.
Meanwhile, 12 of the Mitre 10 Cup provinces are represented in the All Blacks touring squad, with six players from Canterbury and Wellington, four from Auckland, Tasman and Taranaki, three from Counties Manukau and Waikato, two each from Bay of Plenty, Manawatu and Tasman; and one player each from Northland, North Harbour and Southland.
The Vista 2017 All Blacks Northern Tour
1. vs THE BARBARIANS, Saturday 4 November, Twickenham, LONDON
2. vs. FRANCE, Saturday 11 November, Stade de France, PARIS
3. vs. FRANCE XV, Tuesday 14 November, Parc Olympique Lyonnais, LYON
4. vs. SCOTLAND, Saturday 18 November, Murrayfield, EDINBURGH
5. vs. WALES, Saturday 25 November, Millennium Stadium, CARDIFF