The All Black Squad for the July Internationals against Fiji and Tonga has been named. The squad has 5 new Caps and a depth of talent, pace and power as we expected. There are definitely some surprises in the squad that nobody saw coming.
Brodie Retalick has made a return from his Japanese club and he has put his world class name back in the All Black squad. Sam Whitelock has been named as test captain, in the absence of incumbent, Sam Cane. We know he is a brilliant leader to the All Blacks and he has mountains of experience behind him.
Ethan Blackadder has been named in the squad as one of the Debutants. He has shown outstanding form in the Trans-Tasman tournament as well as in Super Rugby Aotearoa. A well deserved spot has been booked in the squad by Blackadder. In my opinion his only weakness is that he is injury prone and he might face injury in the test matches. Hopefully this is not the case, obviously!
TJ Perenara is not available for selection so his name does not feature in the lineup. Aaron Smith is the safe call at 9 with Weber usually the 3rd choice 9, now standing in as the 2nd choice . Christie will then be the 3rd choice scrumhalf and one of the 5 debutants in the squad.
Christie is a Scottish resident and there was talk of Scotland playing him as their first choice 9 but they have so much depth at Scrumhalf in any case. I'd rather see Christie in All Black colors to be honest.
Now lets talk about the infamous All Black 10 jersey. A safe option would be to select Beaudy Barrett as your first choice 10. But based on his current form in 2021, I would start Richie Mo'unga, he has just slipped on his big boy boots and he is playing rugby that the hall of fame would be proud of! He has been a beast with ball in hand and he has showed his tactical mindset when it comes to attacking and set pieces. He has also made plenty meters with ball in hand from running deep instead of making a returning kick, never mind him being the top stat for defenders beaten in the Trans-Tasman tournament. Richie, you deserve this spot and you have my vote!
The Midfield is looking a bit spicy when it comes to selection. Solid players like Laumape being in France and Goodhue being injured, it leaves a gap in the midfield. Havili, Ioane, Leinart-Brown and the debutant, Tupoea have been selected in the midfield. All excellent, strong players that have had solid seasons with their respective clubs.
"I don't get quite as hot headed as I used to"- Damian Mckenzie
Now look! A more mature and in form Mckenzie has crept back into the squad! This is one lad I am particularly excited to see back in the side. What a player! No shortage of talent in Mckenzie's boots, he has it all in my opinion, talent, pace and the heart to make those big important tackles. Ever since he grew that luscious mullet he's been unstoppable!
All Blacks squad to face Tonga and Fiji
Ethan de Groot*