Pictures from In port race won by DongFeng Racing on Friday 8 December 2017

credit -all pics from volvo ocean race 2017


On Friday 8th December Dongfeng Race Team wins a spectacular Cape Town In-Port Race

We had the privilege to be out on a media boat to witness the action first hand .

These magnificent racing beasts did over 19 knots as a gentle SW breeze blew over Table Bay .A flotilla of media boats and small rubber ducks followed the action.

Dongfeng Race Team beat a resurgent MAPFRE and team AkzoNobel in Cape Town on Friday…

Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Dongfeng Race Team traded blows throughout the first half of the Cape Town In-Port Race course on Friday afternoon, before the Chinese-French team grabbed the lead midway through the race and stretched away for their first win in the series.

The victory vaults skipper Charles Caudrelier’s team to second place on the leaderboard for the In-Port Race Series, just behind MAPFRE who retained the overall lead with a fightback second place finish on Friday.

“The team did a fantastic job, very nice boat handling and good speed, so well done to the full team,” Caudrelier said after the race.

“Our start was not fantastic, but after that we made a good call to tack a bit earlier and put pressure on Vestas and then we found some good speed. That was a key factor.”

Conditions were spectacular on the waters off Cape Town, with wind near 20 knots, under bright, sunny skies. Boat handling was at a premium in the fresh conditions and on the first two laps of the course, there were several very close crosses as the boats approached the turning gates.

Near the end of the second run, Vestas 11th Hour Racing were sailing on an awkward wind angle to the mark and had difficulty furling their big A3 downwind sail in preparation for the rounding.

It didn’t hurt them immediately but when they next tried to deploy the sail at the final top mark, it wouldn’t fully unfurl, and the team was very slow for most of the final run.

“We started well,” said navigator Simon Fisher. “At the second top mark Dongfeng did a great job, pushing us to the less favoured side, which pushed us back into the fleet, which put pressure on the downwind drop, which meant we didn’t have a great furl, and that hurt us on the last run. It’s just a great example of how things can snowball.”

The mistake cost the team two places, as both MAPFRE and team AkzoNobel raced past on the run to the finish.

The second place finish represented a tremendous comeback for MAPFRE who were forced into a penalty turn just before the start, leaving them them the last to get across the line.

But the Spanish team kept pushing its way up the fleet, finally forcing team AkzoNobel away with an aggressive luff near the final top mark, setting the table for the pass of Vestas 11th Hour Racing on the final run.

Further back, Brunel and Scallywag engaged in a luffing match early on the first run. The Umpires penalised Scallywag for an infraction and following the penalty turn, David Witt’s team were trailing the fleet.

At the finish, a hard-charging Brunel nearly stole a place from Turn the Tide on Plastic. But Dee Caffari’s team, who had a very strong start to the race, held on for fifth place.

The boats depart for the start of leg three on Sunday 10 December at 14h00 local time to Melbourne via the Southern Ocean and via the roaring 40’s and raging 50’s .

credit for above pic : Cape Town stopover. In-Port Race. 08 December. Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race -All others pictures by Martin Myers

Cape Town In-Port Race Results

1. Dongfeng Race Team
3. team AkzoNobel
4. Vestas 11th Hour Racing
5. Turn the Tide on Plastic
6. Team Brunel
7. Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag

Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race Series Leaderboard

1. MAPFRE — 19 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team — 18 points
3. Team Brunel — 13 points
4. Vestas 11th Hour Racing — 12 points
5. team AkzoNobel — 11 points
6. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag — 6 points
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic — 5 points

Powell names unchanged side for HSBC Cape Town Sevens

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell rewarded the 12 players who won the opening tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai when he named an unchanged squad for the highly anticipated HSBC Cape Town Sevens on Wednesday.

The tournament takes place in the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday and Sunday and tickets were sold out in a matter of hours after they went on sale a couple of months ago.

“All the players would love to play in their only home tournament on the circuit, so the result at the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens made it easy for me to pick the team,” said Powell.

“Everyone returned fit from that tournament and will have the added motivation of playing in front of a very supportive home crowd.

“The only change to our squad is the official reserve – we have included Siviwe Soyizwapi in the place of Marco Labuschagne – which was part of our planning all along.

“Siviwe travelled to Dubai as captain of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy squad, which gave him the opportunity to get some playing time. He performed very well there and he will slot in easily, should one of our players pick up and injury which rules him out of the tournament.”

Powell admitted that he was feeling slightly nervous as the tournament approached, but he is comfortable that his squad prepared well.

“We needed to fine-tune a couple of things that we did not execute well in Dubai,” said Powell.

“This we did that and still have two training sessions left this week, so we have to ensure the players are mentally ready for the big event.”

South Africa will play Russia, France and Kenya in Pool A of the competition on Saturday.

The Springbok Sevens team for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens:

1. Chris Dry (63 tournaments, 304 matches, 455 points, 91 tries)

2. Philip Snyman (captain, 48 tournaments, 213 matches, 306 points, 55 tries)

3. Tim Agaba (11 tournaments, 55 matches, 45 points, 9 tries)

4. Kwagga Smith (28 tournaments, 141 matches, 290 points, 58 tries)

5. Werner Kok (30 tournaments, 148 matches, 360 points, 72 tries)

6. Kyle Brown (59 tournaments, 291 matches, 395 points, 79 tries)

7. Branco du Preez (56 tournaments, 281 matches, 1079 points, 79 tries)

8. Rosko Specman (22 tournaments, 117 matches, 278 points, 50 tries)

9. Justin Geduld (31 tournaments, 158 matches, 684 points, 76 tries)

10. Cecil Afrika (54 tournaments, 279 matches, 1322 points, 152 tries)

11. Seabelo Senatla (34 tournaments, 173 matches, 980 points, 196 tries)

12. Ruhan Nel (22 tournaments, 110 matches, 187 points, 37 tries)

13. Siviwe Soyizwapi* (12 tournament, 57 matches, 175 points, 35 tries)

*Replacement Player


• Cecil Afrika is South Africa’s all-time leading points’ scorer in the World Series – 1322 points

• Seabelo Senatla is the all-time leading try-scorer for the Blitzboks – 196 tries

South Africa’s schedule for Saturday, 9 December is (SA kick-off times):

12h49: Russia

16h10: France

19h56: Kenya

Issued by SA Rugby Communications

Book for this show at the Baxter Theatre from 19 December -with Chantal Stanfield

This one person show will be superb
Chantal Stanfield tells the true story of how she married this young Jewish Man

The season earlier this year was sold out in Johannesburg

Book at Computicket

Barrett and Woodman named World Rugby Players of the Year 2017

Beauden Barrett and Portia Woodman have been named World Rugby Men’s and Women’s Player of the Year 2017 at the World Rugby Awards in Monte Carlo on Sunday.

Barrett becomes only the second player to win the prestigious award two years in a row, matching the achievement of his former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw from 2009-10.

He received the award ahead of four other nominees in All Blacks team-mate Rieko Ioane, England and British Lions duo Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje and Australia full-back Israel Folau.

Barrett said: “I’m very proud and surprised. I wanted to be better than last year and I still think I have plenty more to go. The Lions series put us under the most pressure I have probably felt in a black jersey and that’s a credit to the Lions. We learnt a lot from that series, particularly taking that into the World Cup. When I hang the boots up, that’s when I can look back and be really proud of this. I’ve got to thank my team. I am just one player amongst a great team.”

New Zealand winger Portia Woodman was named the World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year 2017 after helping the Black Ferns win a fifth Women’s Rugby World Cup title in Ireland in August.

She received the award ahead of four other nominees in Black Ferns team-mate Kelly Brazier, England winger Lydia Thompson and France back-row duo Romane Menager and Safi N’Diaye.

Woodman said: “Obviously just winning the team of the year award shows just how good our team is, and they make me look good; they do all the work and I am out there on the sideline just waiting for the ball. My mum wasn’t a big fan of me playing rugby, but I think she was going to support me no matter what and, without them (my parents), I obviously wouldn’t be where I am because they pushed me to do everything I can to the best of my ability.”

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “It has been an outstanding 2017 for rugby on and off the field and tonight we have recognised and celebrated those who have made it so special.

“From the players, teams and coaches who have inspired millions of fans to the unsung volunteers and projects who at community level are the foundation of our great game, we salute them all.

“Congratulations to all our nominees and award winners who have not just displayed excellence, but who embody rugby’s character-building values.”

The award winners were selected by an independent panel, who voted on every match from the Six Nations through to the start of the November internationals. For more details on the respective awards panels, click here.

World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard – Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)

The 26-year-old continues the All Blacks’ dominance of this prestigious accolade with the world champions having accounted for the last six winners. Barrett becomes only the second player to win back-to-back awards after another impressive season in the No.10 jersey in which he celebrated his 50th test against Samoa with a two-try, 24-point haul and a piece of All Blacks history alongside his brothers, and finished the Lions series as top point scorer with 41. The attack-minded fly-half, who is equally at home at full-back, continued to torment defences with his instinctive play and captained the All Blacks for the first time in the non-capped victory over the Barbarians earlier this month.

Nominees: Owen Farrell (England and British and Irish Lions), Israel Folau (Australia), Rieko Ioane (New Zealand), Maro Itoje (England and Lions)

World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard – Portia Woodman (New Zealand)

The 26-year-old played every minute of the Black Ferns’ successful WRWC 2017 campaign, scoring 13 tries – including eight against Hong Kong in the pool stages and four in their semi-final win over USA, one of which was nominated for IRPA Try of the Year – to finish as top try and point-scorer. If she wasn’t using her pace, power and unbelievable footwork to score herself she was creating opportunities for those around her. The former netballer, who only returned to 15s in May, played all eight of New Zealand’s tests in 2017, scoring 16 tries in total to take her career record to a remarkable 22 in just 16 tests.

Nominees: Kelly Brazier (New Zealand), Romane Menager (France), Safi N’Diaye (France), Lydia Thompson (England)

World Rugby Team of the Year – New Zealand Women’s 15s

New Zealand won a fifth Women’s Rugby World Cup title in August after beating defending champions England 41-32 in a thrilling finale in Belfast, a result which took them back to the top of the World Rugby Women’s Rankings. The Black Ferns, with coach Glenn Moore and captain Fiao’o Faamausili leading the way, were the top point and try scorers in the tournament. This success came after New Zealand hosted the International Women’s Rugby Series in June with the hosts beating Australia and Canada before losing to England. New Zealand are the first women’s team to receive the accolade.

Nominees: England Men’s 15s, New Zealand Men’s 15s

World Rugby Coach of the Year – Eddies Jones (England)

Now in his second year, Eddie Jones has led England to nine victories in 2017 with the only loss coming against Ireland in the Six Nations finale to halt his winning run as coach at 17 tests. A second Six Nations title was followed by a two-test series win in Argentina in June and victories over Argentina, Australia and Samoa this month to take his record to 22 wins in his 23 tests in charge.

Nominees: Warren Gatland (British and Irish Lions), Steve Hansen (New Zealand)

World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in association with TUDOR – Rieko Ioane (New Zealand)

The winger marked his All Blacks debut last November with a try against Italy, but it is in 2017 that Rieko Ioane truly made his mark on the international stage with 10 tries in 11 starts. The 20-year-old scored twice in his first start against the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park and claimed another double in his first Bledisloe Cup match in August. Blessed with pace and strength, Ioane was joint-top try-scorer in the Rugby Championship with five after beating the most defenders, making the most clean breaks and metres in the competition.

Nominees: Emiliano Boffelli (Argentina), Damian Penaud (France)

World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Perry Baker (USA)

The oldest of the nominees at 31, Perry Baker enjoyed a season to remember in 2016-17, topping the charts for tries and points scored on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with 57 and 285 respectively. The USA Eagles flyer has electric pace and can make something out of nothing, but has now developed the all-round game to go with his natural speed.

Nominees: Rosko Specman (South Africa), Jerry Tuwai (Fiji)

World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Michaela Blyde (New Zealand)

Michaela Blyde enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2016-17 under new Black Ferns Sevens coach Allan Bunting. Her potential had always been clear to see, but Portia Woodman’s move into the forwards gave her the chance to make a starting spot her own. Blyde’s performances saw her finish as top try-scorer with 40, take her place in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Dream Team and be named DHL Impact Player of the Series.

Nominees: Ghislaine Landry (Canada), Ruby Tui (New Zealand)

World Rugby Referee Award – Joy Neville (Ireland)

A veteran of 70 caps for Ireland, Joy Neville is now creating history in the world of refereeing in a year that has seen her take charge of the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 final in August and referee her first men’s international in Rugby Europe’s Conference 2 North in October. This month she is acting as assistant referee for three men’s matches, having recently signed a professional contract with the IRFU.

Award for Character – Eduardo Oderigo (Argentina)

A criminal lawyer, Eduardo “Coco” Oderigo spent 15 years working in the courts of Buenos Aires before a visit to Unit 48 at San Martin prison gave him the idea of teaching rugby and its core values to the inmates. Fundación Espartanos was born out of his desire to help prisoners reintegrate into society and weekly training sessions began in 2009. Eight years on, more than 500 prisoners are involved in the programme which has spread throughout Argentina, supported by local clubs and coaches. In this time many prisoners have changed their lives and learnt new values, helping to reduce the reoffending rate of those released from Espartanos to fall dramatically to just two per cent.

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Marcel Martin (France)

Regarded as a pioneer and visionary figure, Marcel Martin spent more than 50 years involved in the development of rugby in France and was one of the main architects of the major political and sporting changes in rugby. A long-time Board member of the Fédération Française de Rugby Board and Ligue Nationale de Rugby, he was also an IRB Council Member. His service to the game he loved was recognised with the IRB Chairman’s Award in 2005 and he was made an Officier de la Legion d’Honneur in 2014. He passed away in May, aged 83.

IRPA Try of the Year – Joaquin Tuculet (Argentina, v England)
After more than 14,000 votes were cast by rugby fans on Twitter and guests at the World Rugby Awards, Joaquin Tuculet’s score for Argentina in the first test against England in June was named the IRPA (International Rugby Players’ Association) Try of the Year 2017. A breakout that began deep in his team’s own 22 after Juan Manuel Leguizamon fielded an England kick and the ball found its way to Matias Orlando, the centre slicing through the visitor’s defence with ease. He found Emiliano Boffelli in support, the test debutant straightening the attack before releasing Tuculet to sprint away from the defence to finish off the free-flowing move.

Nominees: Gela Aprasidze (Georgia U20 v Ireland U20), Sean O’Brien (British and Irish Lions v New Zealand), Portia Woodman (New Zealand v USA)

IRPA Special Merit Award – Richie McCaw (New Zealand) and Rachael Burford (England)

Two-time Rugby World Cup winning captain Richie McCaw is the world’s most capped player with 148 tests for the All Blacks, 110 of them as captain. A three-time World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year, the 36-year-old was an outstanding leader on the field but also off it, continually demonstrating the highest levels of awareness and responsibility. The inaugural IRPA Southern Hemisphere President, McCaw was an active NZRPA Board member for 13 years, focusing on creating environments for players to thrive on and off the field. He is also Patron of the New Zealand Rugby Foundation and the Catwalk Trust, supporting players and their families following serious injuries and funding research aiming to overcome paralysis after spinal court injuries. He is also co-found and Patron of iSport, a charity focused on inspiring young people through sport to create a brighter future.

Rachael Burford is also a Rugby World Cup winner, having won the title with England in 2014. The 31-year-old’s other three Women’s Rugby World Cup appearances have ended in final defeats, including earlier this year in Ireland. A former England Player of the Year, Burford has also contributed extensively to player welfare and the game in general by sitting on a number of panels over the last four years, including the World Rugby Laws Review Group, Rugby Committee and Women’s Advisory Committee. She became the first female Board Member of the Rugby Players’ Association in 2014 and has been an IRPA representative and Rugby Athletes’ Commissions since then as well. Burford also runs her own girls’ rugby academy, helping to develop the next generation of players on and off the field.

Full list of World Rugby Awards winners

World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year, in association with Mastercard – Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year, in association with Mastercard – Portia Woodman (New Zealand)
World Rugby Team of the Year – New Zealand Women’s 15s
World Rugby Coach of the Year – Eddie Jones (England)
World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year in association with TUDOR – Rieko Ioane (New Zealand)
World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Perry Baker (USA)
World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year in association with HSBC – Michaela Blyde (New Zealand)
World Rugby Referee Award – Joy Neville (Ireland)
Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service – Marcel Martin (France)
Award for Character – Eduardo Oderigo (Argentina)
IRPA Special Merit Award – Richie McCaw (New Zealand) and Rachael Burford (England)
IRPA Try of the Year – Joaquin Tuculet (Argentina, v England)

The All Blacks team to play Wales tonight is :

The All Blacks team has been named to play Wales in the third Test of the Vista 2017 All Blacks Northern Tour at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday 25 November, with lock Samuel Whitelock to captain the All Blacks for the first time.

This is the last game of the season for the 2017 team.
The matchday 23 is (with Test caps):

1. Kane Hames (8)
2. Codie Taylor (28)
3. Nepo Laulala (12)
4. Patrick Tuipulotu (15)
5. Samuel Whitelock (95) – captain
6. Liam Squire (14)
7. Sam Cane (52)
8. Luke Whitelock (1)
9. Aaron Smith (70)
10. Beauden Barrett (61)
11. Rieko Ioane (12)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (45)
13. Ryan Crotty (34)
14. Waisake Naholo (17)
15. Damian McKenzie (11)

16. Nathan Harris (10)
17. Wyatt Crockett (70)
18. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (13)
19. Scott Barrett (13)
20. Matt Todd (12)
21. TJ Perenara (41)
22. Lima Sopoaga (15)
23. Anton Lienert-Brown (21)

29-year-old Whitelock, the most capped All Blacks lock of all time, takes over as Captain for Kieran Read, who will miss the Test because of injury.

Read pictured at Newlands doing captains press conference prior to 7 Oct Match watched by Martin Myers ,Craig Marais ,Grant Shub

Read has been replaced at number eight by Luke Whitelock.

There is one other injury-enforced change to the matchday 23 which played Scotland last week: Patrick Tuipulotu comes in for Luke Romano. Meanwhile, Liam Squire will start at blindside flanker, and lock Scott Barrett comes onto the bench in the 19 jersey.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “Whilst it’s disappointing to not have ‘Reado’ available, it’s a great opportunity to further grow the leadership of the team and, in this case, Sam Whitelock gets the opportunity to captain the side. On behalf of the team, we’d like to congratulate him on this special honour.

“With his brother Luke captaining the All Blacks against the French XV, it will create a unique, All Blacks family history, and one which their family can be proud of.”

Steve Hansen added: “There’s been a real energy and buzz in the team this week as we prepare for the Test against Wales. The group has worked hard on its preparation, we’ve asked them to go bone deep and they’re looking to deliver a performance we can all be proud of.

“It’s always a pleasure to play in stadiums like the Millennium. We experienced a magnificent atmosphere last week up in Murrayfield and looking forward to a full house on Saturday. The Welsh are well known for their singing and that, in itself, creates something special. As always, we have been treated incredibly well here in Cardiff and have thoroughly enjoyed our week.”

Key notes

* The All Blacks have played Wales 33 times since 1905, with 30 wins to the All Blacks and three wins to Wales. The last match between the two sides was in Dunedin in June 2016, which the All Blacks won 46-6. The last Test in Cardiff was in November 2014, which the All Blacks won 24-16.

* Sam and Luke Whitelock will join Wellington brothers Harry and Marcus Nicholls (from the 1920s) as the only set of brothers to have captained the All Blacks. Sam Whitelock will be the 69th player to captain the All Blacks in a Test.

* Beauden Barrett has kicked a record 41 conversions this year and scored 160 points in total in Test matches for the All Blacks this year – there have been just four higher totals by an All Black.

* The All Blacks have scored 468 points in Test matches this year – for an average of 36 points per Test – and scored 62 tries.

* The most points Wales has scored against the All Blacks was 37 at Rugby World Cup 2003 – when Wales were coached by Steve Hansen.

The Vista 2017 All Blacks Northern Tour

1. Barbarians 22 All Blacks 31, Saturday 4 November, Twickenham, LONDON

2. France 18 All Blacks 38, Saturday 11 November, Stade de France, PARIS

3. France XV 23 All Blacks 28, Tuesday 14 November, Groupama Stadium, LYON

4. Scotland 17 All Blacks 22, Saturday 18 November, Murrayfield, EDINBURGH

5. vs. WALES, Saturday 25 November, Millennium Stadium, CARDIFF

Kick-off: 5.15PM BST

All Blacks building depth that is set to prove a game-changer at 2019 World Cup

Steve Hansen has used 55 All Blacks in 2017, and 44 of them on this northern tour. This does not apply to the Boks at present under Coetzee

As insurance policies go, Steve Hansen may just have a dandy a couple of years out from the next World Cup. The All Blacks have been better, for sure, but have they ever been deeper than they are right now?

It’s a legitimate question to ask as Hansen leads a 43-strong leviathan around France and the UK this November. They will briefly number 44 when Akira Ioane joins them from his Maori commitments in Bordeaux and then return to a more modest 37 following the Lyon midweeker, by which time the injured Jerome Kaino and a half-dozen Baabaas ring-ins will have jetted back to New Zealand.

The answer to the earlier question is almost certainly no. This may not be an All Blacks squad humming on all cylinders, a la the 2015 World Cup champions, or their 2016 successors, or even the 2013 perfect year men, but they are deeper than Voltaire, which could yet be the single most important advantage they hold over their global rivals heading towards Japan in 2019.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has taken the biggest All Blacks squad to the northern hemisphere.

Rugby is a brutal, gladiatorial game, and only getting more so. The professional level of the sport is played nigh on 10 months of the year, and it is exacting a massive toll. Injuries are becoming not just a part of the game, but the dominant factor any coach has to combat when preparing for a campaign of any sort.

France had 19 players officially unavailable for their test against the All Blacks at Stade de France, and that’s just nine games into the new Top 14 season. Clubs in the UK and France are already dealing with long-term injury lists as high as 15 or 16, with some struggling to put full squads on the park.

Of course Hansen knows this. And his 2017 campaign has been mapped out to reflect it. It’s no coincidence that the All Blacks added a Barbarians and midweek French XV match to their three mandated tests on this tour.

That created, in effect, two non-test matchups, and gave Hansen the ideal stage on which to run his dirty-dirties, or second-tier men. It’s all very well bringing people on tour for experience, but if you can give them legitimate international matches as well, then even better.

Ironically injuries in his own group have also helped Hansen further build his depth this year. He had seven top players either crocked or unavailable for personal reasons when he set out for London, and Kaino became the eighth when a knee injury forced him out after the Baabaas clash.

By manager Darren Shand’s count the All Blacks have used 55 players in and around their various engagements in 2017, and that is an unprecedented number.

It is also a number that won’t upset Hansen and assistant Ian Foster as they look to build a depth chart that their chasing rivals, such as England, Ireland, the Springboks and Australia, can only look at with envy.

The All Blacks have legitimate international quality three deep in probably every position bar halfback. And you can bet finding a successor to the departing Tawera Kerr-Barlow will be their No 1 priority in 2018.

“We’re trying to grow some more depth, and we’re doing that,” says Hansen. “People don’t understand just how tough it is when you first come into the All Blacks. They expect the result to be clinical and precise, but the reality is that’s not the case.

“Sometimes, particularly when you’ve got a young group, there is going to be inconsistency. You’ve just got to be patient and take your time. I know for a fact we’ll end up with some quality people [at the end of this tour] and have a good group to be able to select from in 2019.

“The key thing this year is we’ve had a number of injuries, suspensions and personal tragedies that have exposed a wider base than we probably thought we would do this year. But at the beginning of next year when everyone is available we should have a bigger pool to pick from, and more experienced people too which should give us a boost to the next level.’

Think about it. Bring back Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Israel Dagg and maybe even a rejuvenated Julian Savea, and suddenly you have all sorts of options in the back three. Same when you add Owen Franks and Joe Moody to the suddenly bulging prop stock.

Halfback is the only position where Hansen would have just a little concern. Maybe No 8 too, but there are not a lot of opportunities there behind the skipper.

At No 9, behind Aaron Smith and TJ Perrenara, he does not have an obvious backup. It’s why he brought Kerr-Barlow on one final tour, even though he is departing at its end.

But this is New Zealand rugby. That hole will be plugged soon enough. Mitchell Drummond has had a week with the Baabaas, and now one with the All Blacks. Brad Weber remains a contender. Same with Auggie Pulu and Bryn Hall. The national coaches just need to see more from them.

“We’re giving other people an opportunity to grow and get an understanding of what All Blacks rugby is about,” adds Hansen. “Northern tours have always been about bringing extra people so we can develop them. It’s a good platform, you’re in a touring environment where things are quite intense for a month, and you get a good look at the young guys.

“One of our big aims for the year was to expose young guys to touring, test match rugby and playing for the All Blacks. By the end of this season we would have done that in bulk.”

Have a look at this depth chart, and judge for yourself where Hansen’s All Blacks stand less than two years from the World Cup.

Sure, they’ve had a wobble or two, but simply no one – England included – can match them for depth.


Fullback: Ben Smith, Jordie Barrett, Damian McKenzie, David Havili.

Wings: Rieko Ioane, Israel Dagg, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Seta Tamanivalu, Matt Duffie, Julian Savea.

Midfield: Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty, Anton Liennert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Jack Goodhue, Charlie Ngatai.

First fives: Beauden Barrett, Lima Sopoaga, Richie Mo’unga, Damian McKenzie.

Halfback: Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara.

Loose forwards: Kieran Read, Sam Cane, Liam Squire, Ardie Savea, Matt Todd, Vaea Fifita, Jerome Kaino, Akira Ioane, Luke Whitelock.

Locks: Brodie Retllick, Sam Whhitelock, Luke Romano, Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu, Dominic Bird.

Props: Owen Franks, Joe Moody, Nepo Laulala, Kane Hames, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Tim Perry, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Atu Moli.

Hookers: Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris, Asafo Aumua.

source Sunday Star Times

%d bloggers like this: