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All Blacks expecting fast and physical game plan from Wales



Restored to something approaching full strength, the All Blacks expect Wales to throw everything at them in a physical contest at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Sunday (NZT).

All Blacks coach Ian Foster said playing Wales in Cardiff was always a special occasion.

“There’s a lot of passion in the crowd and we know they demand 100 percent attitude and commitment from you, so it’s a great place to start the European part of our tour.

The stadium roof will be closed, and, as a result, the prospect was that Wales would look to play a fast game in attempting to beat the All Blacks for the first time since 1953.

Wales had selected a strong team who had been competitive in their three Tests in South Africa, and they would play with a lot of confidence from that.

“They’ve picked an uncapped player on the wing [Rio Dyer] and he’s very quick, so they’ve got plenty of speed, but we know that Wales are a very physical rugby team and they challenge your commitment and physicality.”

Foster said the selection of Codie Taylor was down to managing the three hookers in the side, but it was also a reaction to the enforced changes made moments before the start of last week’s Test in Japan.

Original starter Dane Coles cried off with a calf injury resulting in Samisoni Taukei’aho starting and Taylor coming on as a substitute later in the game.

“It’s a strategy of switching them around and sharing the load at this stage.

“Codie was going to have a break, and he ended up playing, so we felt we’ve got two battle-hardened hookers, and we’ll switch them around.

“But, Codie was probably under a lot of pressure in his last Test start and we were delighted with how he went about it, and played, and it was good to see him back. So, it’s a chance for him to cement his role as one of our leading hookers.”

The choice of Jordie Barrett at second five-eighths was down to his performance against Australia at Eden Park.

“We’ve gone with combinations from that Test,” Foster said.

“I said then that Jordie had an outstanding game. It’s a chance to give him another start in that position in a different environment against a different team. This is a chance for him to cement his understanding of that role – it gives us a different style and a different game.

“It’s a bit about gathering information for the future, but [we’re] also excited about what he brings and also the ability to use Davey [Havili] off the bench and utilise Jordie in a different role later in the game.”

Halfback Aaron Smith’s achievement in playing his 113th Test and becoming the most capped back in All Blacks history would be a special moment. It was the sort of milestone that came around when involved for as long as Smith has been. He has moved past Dan Carter to the No1 position.

“It was pretty special having DC [Carter] at the game last week and he came down to our shed afterwards and said a few words. He’s a special man, he’s been a massive part of us the last decade and I’m delighted that this little milestone is something he can tick off and I’m sure he will want to do it in typical Aaron Smith manner.”

In Sam Cane’s absence, flanker Dalton Papali’i has the chance for much-wanted game time, and Foster said he was jumping out of his skin to play.

“He’s been a big contributor all campaign. He’s turned into a quality loose forward and he’s relishing the chance to play.”

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby

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Munster Confirm Three New Signings



Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm the signing of Oli Jager from the Crusaders with the tighthead prop signing a contract until the summer of 2027.

Hooker Eoghan Clarke is rejoining Munster on a short-term contract with back three player Colm Hogan also returning on a short-term deal.
Jager will join the province in the coming weeks with his contract beginning at the start of December.

Born in London, Jager started out at Naas RFC before playing schools rugby at Newbridge College and Blackrock College. He lined out for the Ireland U18 Schools team in 2013 before moving to Canterbury in New Zealand at the age of 17.

Initially attending the Crusaders International High Performance Unit, he earned a place in the Crusaders Academy in 2014. After impressing with New Brighton RFC, he earned a place in the Canterbury squad for the Mitre 10 Cup in 2016.

Jager made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2017 and has been a key member of their squad for the past seven years, winning seven consecutive Super Rugby titles.

Eoghan Clarke spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in March 2021. A former Ireland U20 international, Clarke won the English Championship with Jersey Reds last season before the club went into liquidation last month.

Colm Hogan, who has lined out for Ireland U20 and Munster A in the past, played his schools rugby with Glenstal Abbey. He captained Dublin University in the AIL and also had a spell with Colomiers in the PRO D2 while studying in France.

The 26-year-old played for Leinster against Chile last year and lined out with recent Munster arrival Alex Nankivell for Tasman Mako in the NPC this year.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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Key All Black announces sabbatical to play in Japan



All Blacks captain Sam Cane will take up a sabbatical option in his New Zealand Rugby (NZR) contract in 2024 to play a season for Suntory in Japan League One.

The 31-year-old, 95-Test loose forward will miss the 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season with the Chiefs, but will return to New Zealand in June to be available for selection to the All Blacks for the 2024 Steinlager Series and Rugby Championship campaign.

Cane, who is contracted to NZR through to the end of 2025, said he was looking forward to experiencing a new playing environment with Suntory and learning more about a new culture in Japan.

“When the opportunity to play for Suntory in 2024 came up it felt like the right time following the Rugby World Cup to try something new and also a great chance to continue to grow and learn in my rugby and life journey. I’m grateful to New Zealand Rugby for their support to take this opportunity.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to skip a season with the Chiefs, but I know the team is in a great place and has an incredible group of leaders in the squad and the coaching group to have a successful 2024, and I’m really pleased to be able to return in time to put my best foot forward for selection in the All Blacks.”

NZR CEO Mark Robinson said:

“Sam’s decision to take a sabbatical in 2024 has our full support and we wish him and his family all the best for their time in Japan. There are very few players who have given as much as he has to the jerseys he’s worn in his career to date and it’s a mark of his commitment to the All Blacks that he will return and make himself available for the Test season.”

Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan said:

“Sam has given everything to this team on and off the field and deserves to take this opportunity to experience something different. He is an exceptional player and influential leader who has been an integral part of the Gallagher Chiefs for many years. We wish him and his family all the best and hope they enjoy their time in Japan after a full-on year.”

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby

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Key All Black commits to Gallagher Chiefs until 2025



Dominant loose forward Luke Jacobson has extended his contract with the Gallagher Chiefs, Waikato and New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2025.

The 18-test All Black was a consistent starter for the Gallagher Chiefs this year and a key element of their outstanding DHL Super Rugby Pacific performances. He consequently went on to be named in the All Blacks squad to travel to France.

Gallagher Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan is delighted to have Jacobson sticking around for another two seasons.


“Luke is an outstanding player; he’s a workhorse, a consistent performer and considered a real warrior within our group. Luke leads by example both on and off the field. He isnt one to waste words and prefers to let his actions speak for themself. In the absence of some senior players who have moved on, I have no doubt Luke will play an integral part providing the  leadership and guidance our younger players will be looking for”.


Jacobson has impressed throughout his career, playing for the New Zealand U20s team twice and captaining them in his second season to win the 2017 U20 World Championship title. This aptitude for leadership has seen him pull on the Gallagher Chiefs captain’s armband on multiple occasions.


Waikato Rugby head coach Ross Filipo is excited about Luke extending his career with Waikato. “He is a great man and a great leader who continues to make huge contributions on and off the field and always represents the region with pride.”


Speaking on his signing Jacobson said: “I’m stoked to signing on with the Waikato, Chiefs and NZR for another two years. I love representing these teams and am very proud to be able to call myself a Waikato/Chiefs man and also and All black. I’m hungry to succeed with these teams and tick off a few unticked boxes.”


The 2024 Gallagher Chiefs squad will be named later this year ahead of assembling for pre-season training.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby

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