Watch Live: All Blacks announce 33-man squad for the Rugby World Cup
The 33-man All Blacks squad for September's Rugby World Cup in France has been announced in Napier this afternoon.
Direct from Napier's Pettigrew Green Arena, Richie McCaw named the squad, which includes Hawke's Bay's Brodie Retallick. The veteran lock put a scare through the camp when he came off with a knee injury in the win over the Wallabies in Dunedin on Saturday.
The squad features 18 forwards and 15 backs with the following positional breakdown: three hookers, six props, four locks, five loose forwards, three halfbacks, three first five-eighths, four midfielders and five outside backs.
The All Blacks will be captained by Sam Cane. Lock Samuel Whitelock will be going to his fourth tournament. Six players will be going to their third tournament, nine players will be going to their second Tournament, while 17 are going to their first.
With a combined 1493 Test caps, this is the All Blacks’ most experienced Rugby World Cup squad in history. Whitelock is the most capped player with 145 Test caps, while halfback Cam Roigard is the newest All Black with one Test cap. The side has an average age of 27.
Head coach Ian Foster said: “It’s a great privilege to both select and be selected for an All Blacks Rugby World Cup squad".
“We congratulate those 33 players selected. This group has grown in belief and is highly motivated to represent our country with pride in France, as we seek to be the first nation to win the Rugby World Cup four times.
“This year’s Rugby World Cup promises to be the most competitive yet and the pool draw means we have to ready right from the outset. We have worked hard through the first part of our season and have made some strong progress through the Rugby Championship and the Bledisloe series. There is more growth to come and more is needed.
The All Blacks will stage their pre-Rugby World Cup preparations in Napier over a three-day camp. The entire squad will be out in the community helping to rescue the damaged Tangoio Marae while also hosting a public training session on Wednesday.
“The support we have had for our games to date has been fantastic and we are greatly appreciative of it. By naming this team in Napier and spending three days there in the community we simply want to acknowledge the tremendous adversity the communities of the East Coast have endured recently. We have felt helpless from afar and hope this small symbol of our support will assist in some small way,” added Foster.
The All Blacks will kick off their Rugby World Cup campaign against host France in Paris (Friday 8 September), then play Namibia in Toulouse (Friday 15 September), Italy in Lyon (Friday 29 September), and their final Pool match against Uruguay in Lyon (Thursday 5 October).
All Blacks Rugby World Cup squad:
Hookers (3): Codie Taylor, Dane Coles, Samisoni Taukei'aho
Props (6): Ethan de Groot, Fletcher Newell, Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Tamaiti Williams, Tyrel Lomax
Locks (4): Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Scott Barrett, Tupou Vaa'i
Loose forwards (5): Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali'i, Luke Jacobson, Sam Cane (Captain), Shannon Frizell
Halfbacks (3): Aaron Smith, Finlay Christie, Cam Roigard
First five-eighths (3): Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo'unga
Midfielders (4): Jordie Barrett, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown
Outside Backs (5): Caleb Clarke, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Will Jordan, Emoni Narawa, Mark Telea