This is the poster from 2005 signed by Tana Umaga ahead of 1st test on Saturday

The match day 23 for the first Test of the DHL New Zealand Lions Series is listed below (with Test caps in brackets):

This is the poster from 2005 signed by Tana Umaga (my daughter was 5 ) at the time..Casey is now 17 and will be watching on Sat ..helps put the series into perspective the significance that some great players never get to play the Lions -Special thanks to Mike Greenaway for getting pic signed

1. Joe Moody (25)
2. Codie Taylor (16)
3. Owen Franks (91)
4. Brodie Retallick (61)
5. Samuel Whitelock (85)
6. Jerome Kaino (78)
7. Sam Cane (41)
8. Kieran Read (97) – Captain
9. Aaron Smith (59)
10. Beauden Barrett (50)
11. Rieko Ioane (2)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (34)
13. Ryan Crotty (26)
14. Israel Dagg (62)
15. Ben Smith (61)

16. Nathan Harris (5)
17. Wyatt Crockett (59)
18. Charlie Faumuina (47)
19. Scott Barrett (5)
20. Ardie Savea (13)
21. TJ Perenara (30)
22. Aaron Cruden (47)
23. Anton Lienert-Brown (10)

The matchday 23 sees the return of captain Kieran Read with Ardie Savea moving to the bench.

Rieko Ioane has been named on the left wing replacing Julian Savea in what will be Ioane’s first start in his third Test.

It will also be Ioane’s third time facing the Lions in this year’s DHL New Zealand Lions Series. Ryan Crotty returns from injury and has been named at centre, with Anton Lienert-Brown moving to the bench.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “This was a really tough team to pick because there were a number of players in great form vying for positions. But in the end the three selectors felt this was the best combination to take on the Lions in the first Test.

Hansen added it was great to have Read and Crotty back.

“They’ve both been on target to return for this game all the way through, are both in great shape and, together with the rest of the squad, they’re really excited at what’s ahead of us.

“I’d also like to congratulate Rieko on getting his first start for the All Blacks. His outstanding form throughout the season this year, including against the Lions, has earned him his start on the wing.”

Hansen said there was a massive amount of excitement within the team.

“There’s a real understanding that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The players are well aware of the history of the All Blacks and the Lions and are determined to respect that history with their performances.

“We know this is a very good British and Irish Lions team; probably one of the best to have toured here. It’ll be a battle of contrasting styles which makes it an intriguing Test to prepare for and to be part of. We know the importance of this match and we will bring real energy and intensity. It’ll be a physical Test but, just as importantly, it will be a mental test.

“There will be a unique and electric atmosphere at Eden Park on Saturday night. It’s something we’re really looking forward to and we can’t wait.”

Interesting Facts
* The DHL New Zealand Lions Series is the 12th tour to New Zealand by the Lions. The first game was in 1904. The teams have played 38 Test matches.

The All Blacks have won 29 of those matches.

* The most recent Lions Test was at Eden Park on July 9th 2005 where the All Blacks won 38-15.

* The All Blacks last weekend became the first team to reach 15,000 Test points in the team’s 553rd Test. (15,002). France is second on 13,450 points.

* Beauden Barrett has now scored 321 points in Test matches and is fifth on the all-time All Blacks list. Aaron Cruden is fourth on 322 points. The top three are pretty well-known names: Carter, Mehrtens and Fox.

* Owen Franks will become the ninth most capped All Blacks in his 92nd Test on Saturday, equal to All Blacks great Sean Fitzpatrick.

Brodie Retallick says the All Blacks will be ready for what’s coming in the opening test against the Lions.

Forewarned is forearmed, reckon the All Blacks when it comes to that withering defensive line-speed of Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions. As Steve Hansen would say, they might just have more up their sleeves than their arms.

They know it’s coming all right in Saturday’s opening test of the series at Eden Park, and they have seen first-hand the way it can squeeze the life out of such quality opponents as the Crusaders and New Zealand Maori who have both been ground into the turf by Gatland’s full-strength, fast-off-the-mark weekend lineup.

Gatland’s shadow test squad has conceded just one try in 160 minutes of rugby on this tour, and pummelled both the Crusaders (12-3) and Maori (32-10) in the process. They may be struggling to find their attacking flow, but you simply cannot fault the manner in which they have defended through two impressive victories.

Clips from those two games will have been loaded en masse on to the All Blacks’ devices and will be compulsory viewing all week as they build up for the always pivotal opening encounter of this delicious three-test series that only rolls round every dozen years.

The brains trust of Hansen, Ian Foster and Wayne Smith will also be game-planning like mad, and the players expect to see so much of the defensive tactic on the training field all week, that by the time the test rolls round, receiving ball and defender all but simultaneously will be second nature.

That all said, two of the All Blacks’ big boppers admitted it’s a tactic the Lions use extremely well and is just different enough to anything else out there to be a shock to the system of the ill or under-prepared.

“They brought a real intensity, and we saw probably how they will play,” said Brodie Retallick of the Maori game. “It’s all about us this week and what we’re going to do to overcome their line-speed and attack.”

But the 26-year-old rated by many as the world’s best lock conceded there was enough newness to the Lions’ methods to warrant respect. “We don’t see it as intense as the Lions do it,” he said of a ‘D’ line with an Olympic sprinter’s speed out of the blocks.

“Some New Zealand Super Rugby sides are using it, and the Hurricanes do it really well. But it’s not something you face week in, week out. You’ll play Australian or South African team and if numbers are down they’ll hold and push instead of just flying up like the Lions do.

“I guess it’s a wee bit of perceived pressure because you’ve got someone coming fast at you. We will train that this week and get used to it, but it is slightly different to what we’re used to.”

That said, Retallick wasn’t exactly wiping beads of sweat off his brow when the subject came up at Monday’s media conference, on the back of a morning gym session and busy day of meetings to set the agenda for the week.

“We know it’s going to come, so acknowledging it’s going to happen is a starting point. And we’ve got certain skills or aspects we want to adapt to beat it. We’ll train it this week and put a plan in place where hopefully we can get outside it or in behind it.”

Veteran loose forward Jerome Kaino, who confirmed his readiness with a solid 57 minutes in Friday’s romp over Samoa, said it was a part of the Lions’ game that had to be prepared for.

“Whatever any team does, there’s always an opportunity [to find space elsewhere], but also it’s how you deal with their pressure,” said the 78-test No 6. “From what we’ve seen it’s been a strength of theirs and puts teams under a lot of pressure and makes them do things they don’t usually do.

“We’ll address that this week and train areas where we can attack it. But it’s awesome how they defend. The Lions just don’t miss their tackles when they get up there.”

The other perceived strength of the visitors is in that pack which is expected to be retained en masse from the Maori game. The All Blacks understand that if they can match, or even shade, them in the arm-wrestle, they’ll be a long way down the track to a 1-0 series lead.

“You always want to measure yourself against the best, and the way northern hemisphere teams have been playing the last couple of years in the forwards, they’ve set the standards. I want to measure myself against those guys,” said Kaino, a likely starter in the loose trio alongside skipper Kieran Read and openside Sam Cane.

Added Retallick: “We’ve got huge respect for what the Lions are and what they’re bringing. Their set piece is a real asset – their scrum and lineout maul. It’s going to be a battle there. They’ve got some big, ball-carrying loose forwards and we’re going to have to get in front of them and make tackles.”

Forewarned, forearmed and certainly fervent, this is a test that can’t come soon enough for these All Blacks.

source : Stuff

All Blacks team to play Samoa named and so 2017 season starts

The All Blacks team to play Samoa in the American Express Pasifika Challenge on Friday night (15 June 2017 ) at Eden Park has been named with new All Blacks Jordie Barrett and Vaea Fifita set to make their Test debuts from the bench and Ben Smith named as run-on captain for the first time.
Smith, the All Blacks Vice-Captain, will lead the team in his 61st Test and will be the 68th player to captain the national side in a Test.

The match day 23 is (with Test caps in brackets. * denotes new cap):

1. Joe Moody (24)
2. Codie Taylor (15)
3. Owen Franks (90)
4. Brodie Retallick (60)
5. Samuel Whitelock (84)
6. Jerome Kaino (77)
7. Sam Cane (40)
8. Ardie Savea (12)
9. Aaron Smith (58)
10. Beauden Barrett (49)
11. Julian Savea (52)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (33)
13. Anton Lienert-Brown (9)
14. Israel Dagg (61)
15. Ben Smith – captain (60)

16. Nathan Harris (4)
17. Wyatt Crockett (58)
18. Charlie Faumuina (46)
19. Scott Barrett (4)
20. Vaea Fifita*
21. T J Perenara (29)
22. Lima Sopoaga (6)
23. Jordie Barrett *

Meanwhile, it will be a milestone match for Beauden Barrett, with the first five-eighth to run out in his 50th Test. The matchday 23 also sees the return of midfielder Sonny Bill Williams in his first game back since the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham. Hooker Nathan Harris also makes a long-awaited return to Test rugby after being injured last August.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “We’d like to congratulate everyone who has been selected for this Test, particularly ‘Benda’ (Ben Smith), who will captain the side for the first time. He’s been our Vice-Captain for a few years now and captain of the Highlanders, where he’s been doing a fantastic job, so was the logical choice. He leads by example and is an inspiration to his teammates.

“It’s also going to be a big night for Jordie and Vaea as they’re both likely to play a part on the night. They’ve both been in great form and we’re looking forward to seeing what they can do at this level.

“Whilst we asked for this game to help us prepare for the DHL New Zealand Lions Series, once it became a reality, it then took on its own importance — this is a Test match against a quality and very capable opponent. Samoa is about to kick off the qualifying stage of their Rugby World Cup campaign, so this will make them even more dangerous. The Samoans are always a challenge and will play with a high level of physicality and skill. At the very minimum, we will need to match that.

“This first week has been about bringing together the players from the five different Super clubs and reintroducing them to the All Blacks way. We’ve had a good week and are really looking forward to this match.

“It’s going to be a unique night with two Tests being played at the same venue featuring four teams that are well known to New Zealand fans. It’s a night that shouldn’t be missed, as I’m picking there will be a lot of great rugby played so get on down there and show your support.”

Tickets to the American Express Pasifika Challenge are still available from ticketmaster.co.nz or 0800 111 999. Gates at Eden Park open at 4.30PM with the Tonga-Wales Test kicking off at 5.30PM and the All Blacks-Manu Samoa Test starting at 8.00PM.

Interesting facts

• The All Blacks matchday 23 has a total of 871 Test caps.

• This will be the seventh Test match between the All Blacks and Manu Samoa. The last Test was the closely-fought contest in Apia in 2015 which the All Blacks won 25-16.

• Beauden Barrett currently has 297 Test points and is poised to be the fifth All Black to score 300 Test points.

• Winger Julian Savea has scored 45 Test tries, just four behind Doug Howlett’s record of 49 tries.

• Prop Wyatt Crockett currently has a world record 47 consecutive tests without defeat.

Joost was just too good -R.I.P

THE doyen of rugby broadcasting, Bill McLaren, remarked in his book “Rugby’s Great Heroes”, that the “Springboks had no right to be playing an outrageously gifted flank at scrumhalf.”

McLaren indeed summed up Joost. It is fact that the Springbok legend was not refined in the artistry of scrumhalf play but he was among the first players that a coach would pick purely because of his indomitable spirit, his sheer competiveness and utter refusal to lose.

In short, Joost was not a skilled scrumhalf – his pass was often suspect and his box kicking was poor, and coaches knew that, but they always picked him because he had an X factor for scoring and creating tries and a sheer refusal to lose that the rest of the team fed off.

The more a situation in a game deteriorated, the harder Joost played. He just would not give up.

I recall asking him at a press conference in 2003 following the Springboks’ defeat to England in a key Rugby World Cup Pool game if the Boks’ World Cup campaign had been won and lost (the defeat set them up for a quarter-final against New Zealand, and the Springbok team quite frankly was one of the poorest in decades).

He leaned up out of his chair and said with clinched fists said: “It is not a case of IF we beat New Zealand but WHEN we win the World Cup!”

And I knew he was not bull-dusting given his blazing eyes and clear restraint to not jump over the top table and punch my lights out. He would dearly have loved to…

Those eyes … women were mesmerised by them, rugby players feared them.

I was on tour in New in Zealand as a journalist in 1996 when Joost was being discussed on a TV show. One pundit said he had “gunslinger eyes that belonged at the OK Corral” when the going was tough in a match, but another on the show countered that with a wonderful description: “He has the ruthless, icy gaze of a German U-Boat commander scanning the Atlantic for ships to sink.”

One of the most famous photographs from the 1995 Rugby World Cup final was taken early in the game when the block-busting All Black wing Jonah Lomu was on the rampage and Van der Westhuizen (who had taken numbing injections to a rib injury to enable him to play in the final) flung himself into the path of the Tongan and cut him down at the ankles.

Lomu never scored that day (or ever against South Africa) and his opposite number at Ellis Park, James Small, later said that Joost’s courageous fling at the boots of the behemoth to bring “it” to a crashing halt, gave the team added belief that Lomu could be stopped.

But it was on attack that Van der Westhuizen was at his best. He had “white line fever” more than most and had the power, strength and tenacity to bash himself over for try after try.

If a Springbok or Bulls pack was advancing near the opposition line, it was an almost certainty that the rampaging scrumhalf would smash over. He was that determined.

Van der Westhuizen for some time held the record for the most tries as a Springbok, eventually broken by Bryan Habana.

Joost’s 38 tries were scored in 89 Tests, an incredible record for a scrumhalf. Habana, superb as he is, would be expected as a wing to score more than a scrumhalf after having being on the receiving end of creative movements (to date, 67 tries from 124 Tests).

But Joost was not just a finisher. He was a demolisher. If he had a sniff of the tryline, he would almost always score. One of his most famous tries was at the 1999 Rugby World Cup, the Springbok quarter-final victory over England most remembered for the five drop goals kicked by Jannie de Beer.

But those at the Stade de France in Paris that day will recall that the momentum shift in the game came seconds before half time when Joost, bandaged almost from head to foot because of innumerable injuries, set his sights on the corner flag and ran for his life though a white-coloured brick wall to miraculously get the ball down in field.

From my position in the media box, I had a view of Clive Woodward, and when Joost scored that try I saw Woodward throw his head back in dismay. He knew that it was a telling moment.

England heads dropped, the Boks entered the change rooms in front after a fierce first half, and De Beer did the rest.

That is possibly the best image we should recall of Joost van der Westhuizen. He was bandaged like a mummy and took half the England team on his back as he forced that game-breaking try.

By Mike Greenaway

BOK COACH MUST DO THE HONORABLE THING AND RESIGN

We could say the following in euphemisms, with kid gloves, if you like, but what the heck let us just say it like it really is: Springbok coach Allister Coeztee (AC ) must be fired by the South African Union the moment this Springbok team concludes an utterly miserable year that could conceivably have included with a loss to Italy (don’t joke), and then an almost certain loss to Wales in the tour finale in Cardiff.

It really is as bad and as serious as that. Rugby critics and luminaries have been saying this since June. Coetzee and his coaching staff are out of their depth and the issue is that the team gets worse each week, not better. This is quite possibly the worst ever Springbok coaching staff in 120 years of Test rugby in this country.

caption AC with OTC at Heart ( the short bloke in the middle ) with ran from 9-10am on Sat Morning

Coetzee heads a side that does not know how it is expected to play. Some of Coetzee’s selections are simply nonsensical, and the reality is that after 10 Tests in charge Coetzee simply CANNOT continue as captain of a ship that is going backwards.

There is no discernible game plan with an eye on the future. It is about picking a team each week that will do damage limitations.

A loose trio against England at the weekend comprising Willem Alberts, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Warren Whiteley? To be fair, that was about trying stop the England pack from bullying the Boks at the breakdown. But where was an openside flank to slow down the England ball and win turnovers for the Boks? Yes, there injuries in the position but heck this is about winning Test matches and I would have flown in Heinrich Brussow from Outer Mongolia (or wherever the heck he is …).

Coetzee must go now! There are still three years to the Word Cup in Japan. That is enough time for a coach like Johan Ackermann to come in and straighten out the mess, identify a game plan, pick appropriate players, and get the Boks on track.

The England victory over the Boks illustrates the point about how quickly a coach can make n impact. Less than a year ago they were the laughing stock of their country. They had had a very nice man in Stuart Lancaster as coach but he could not instil a hard edge in the England team and they failed to make the last eight of their own World Cup. England was a joke.
Less than a year later, England have won 11 games in a row under a feisty, fiery bomb-waiting-to-go-off Australian in Eddie Jones.

There is no more Mr Nice Guy. He picked as his first captain a hooker that had been regularly in the judiciary dock for dirty play, including biting. His point was that England would no longer back down from anybody. England are unbeaten under Jones and have climbed to No 2 on the world rankings

The Springboks, under the smiling Toetie, have fallen apart since losing by two points to the All Blacks in the 2015 World Cup semi-finals and well beating Argentina to the bronze medal (all under coach Heyneke Meyer).

In 2016 the Boks have lost six out of 10 Tests and conceded a staggering 31 tries.

How can this be? It is a disgrace that the Boks have conceded 31 tries in 2016. Well coached ….????!!!!

I am sick of hearing about the shock losses to Japan, Argentina and Ireland, as well as the whippings by the All Blacks in Christchurch and Durban.

Let me put this to you. If you were the Italy rugby team, and you obviously had seen the form of the Boks in 2016, would you not be licking your slips and slapping yourself together for a giant-slaying act? Would you not be seeing this match in Florence on Saturday as your World Cup final?

In over a 100 years, no Italian player has ever truly believed his team had a chance of beating the almighty Springboks. Quite right. Well I can tell you that every single Italian player will be believe that on Saturday in Florence they have a concrete chance of at last beating one of the game’s great giants.

Again, how can it come to this? How can it be possible that Italy will truly believe they can beat the Springboks, and if you are a Bok fan and are not worried … well you should be.

It is as simple as this. Allister Coetzee and his coaching staff are close to useless. They must be fired en masse asap so that the new staff have a full three years to coach the Boks back to glory.

by Mike Greenaway

All Blacks selectors have named a mixture of experience / new talent for the 3 Steinlager Series Tests against Wales in 2016

The All Blacks selectors Steve Hansen, Ian Foster and Grant Fox have named a mixture of experience and new talent for the three Steinlager Series Tests against Wales.
The squad is as follows: (with province and Test caps)

Kieran Read (captain )

Forwards

Hookers
Dane Coles (Wellington, 36 Tests)
Codie Taylor (Canterbury, four Tests)
Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty, two Tests)

Props
Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury, 45 Tests)
Charlie Faumuina (Auckland, 33 Tests)
Owen Franks (Canterbury, 78 Tests)
Joe Moody (Canterbury, 11 Tests)
Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Auckland, new cap)

Locks
Brodie Retallick (Hawke’s Bay, 47 Tests)
Luke Romano (Canterbury, 22 Tests)
Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland, seven Tests)
Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury, 73 Tests)

Loose Forwards
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty, 31 Tests)
Elliot Dixon (Southland, new cap)
Jerome Kaino (Auckland, 67 Tests)
Kieran Read, captain (Canterbury, 84 Tests)
Ardie Savea (Wellington, new cap)
Liam Squire (Tasman, new cap)

Backs

Halfbacks
Tawera Kerr–Barlow (Waikato, 20 Tests)
Aaron Smith (Manawatu, 47 Tests)

First five–eighths
Beauden Barrett (Taranaki, 36 Tests)
Aaron Cruden (Manawatu, 37 Tests)
Lima Sopoaga (Southland, one Test)

Midfielders
Ryan Crotty (Canterbury, 15 Tests)
Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland, 13 Tests)
Charlie Ngatai (Taranaki, one Test)
Seta Tamanivalu (Taranaki, new cap)

Outside backs
Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay, 49 Tests)
Damian McKenzie (Waikato, new cap)
Waisake Naholo (Taranaki, three Tests)
Julian Savea (Wellington, 41 Tests)
Ben Smith (Otago, 48 Tests)

All Blacks selectors have named a mixture of experience / new talent for the 3 Steinlager Series Tests against Wales in 2016

The All Blacks selectors Steve Hansen, Ian Foster and Grant Fox have named a mixture of experience and new talent for the three Steinlager Series Tests against Wales.
The squad is as follows: (with province and Test caps)

Kieran Read (captain )

Forwards

Hookers
Dane Coles (Wellington, 36 Tests)
Codie Taylor (Canterbury, four Tests)
Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty, two Tests)

Props
Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury, 45 Tests)
Charlie Faumuina (Auckland, 33 Tests)
Owen Franks (Canterbury, 78 Tests)
Joe Moody (Canterbury, 11 Tests)
Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Auckland, new cap)

Locks
Brodie Retallick (Hawke’s Bay, 47 Tests)
Luke Romano (Canterbury, 22 Tests)
Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland, seven Tests)
Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury, 73 Tests)

Loose Forwards
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty, 31 Tests)
Elliot Dixon (Southland, new cap)
Jerome Kaino (Auckland, 67 Tests)
Kieran Read, captain (Canterbury, 84 Tests)
Ardie Savea (Wellington, new cap)
Liam Squire (Tasman, new cap)

Backs

Halfbacks
Tawera Kerr–Barlow (Waikato, 20 Tests)
Aaron Smith (Manawatu, 47 Tests)

First five–eighths
Beauden Barrett (Taranaki, 36 Tests)
Aaron Cruden (Manawatu, 37 Tests)
Lima Sopoaga (Southland, one Test)

Midfielders
Ryan Crotty (Canterbury, 15 Tests)
Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland, 13 Tests)
Charlie Ngatai (Taranaki, one Test)
Seta Tamanivalu (Taranaki, new cap)

Outside backs
Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay, 49 Tests)
Damian McKenzie (Waikato, new cap)
Waisake Naholo (Taranaki, three Tests)
Julian Savea (Wellington, 41 Tests)
Ben Smith (Otago, 48 Tests)

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