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All Blacks Name Bledisloe Cup Squad

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has named his squad for their upcoming Bledisloe Cup games

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has confirmed his squad for the two home and away Bledisloe Cup matches.

There are six players who has been left out from the initial squad with Brodie Retallick is injured, while Asafo Aumua, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Dalton Papalii, Shannon Frizell and Josh Ioane missing.

While Crusaders lock Scott Barrett comes back into the squad following time out with a thumb injury.

Hansen has admitted that the Bledisloe Cup games are one of the biggest tests for the All Blacks and he is looking forward to facing the Wallabies once more.

“Bledisloe Cup Tests are always massive Tests. We know that the Wallabies will be confident after their win over Argentina and desperate to win this first match, so we’re looking forward to getting to Perth and getting into our Test preparation. The Bledisloe Cup is the second most important trophy for us, after the Rugby World Cup, and we’re really looking forward to the next two Tests coming up. Two weeks together will give us solid preparation towards growing our game understanding and getting our execution honed, so that’s exciting,” he said.

The first of the two tests will be played in Perth, a place the All Blacks haven’t visited since 1992 and Hansen is excited to go back.

“The last time the All Blacks played in Perth was way back in 1992 (against a Western Australia side) but this will be an historic first Test for us in the city, so we’re also looking forward to catching up with our fans over there,” he added.

As well as the six players mentioned above, Nepo Laulala and Sonny Bill Williams will both play for Counties Manukau in a Mitre 10 Cup warm-up game this Saturday.

Laulala will link back up with the All Blacks squad in Perth following the game while Williams will play Counties Manukau’s Mitre 10 Cup opening game on the 10th of August before heading to Auckland to prepare for the All Blacks second Bledisloe Cup game.

Check Out the Full Squad Below.

Forwards:

Dane Coles, Liam Coltman and Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Angus Ta’avao and Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Jackson Hemopo, Patrick Tuipulotu and Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Luke Jacobson, Kieran Read, Ardie Savea and Matt Todd.

Backs:

TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith and Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown and Sonny Bill Williams, Braydon Ennor and Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece and Ben Smith.

6 Nations

Sexton to Miss Northampton Return Game

Leinster fly-half Johnny Sexton is set to miss this weekend’s home game against Northampton Saints and there are further injury concerns for the Irish province

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Leinster have confirmed that out-half Johnny Sexton will not feature in this weekend’s return fixture against the Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup.

The Irish-star went down awkwardly in a tackle early in the second-half of Saturday’s 43-16 victory over the Saints and was replaced by Ross Byrne immediately and will now see a specialist later today for further scans on the injury. 

The 34-year-olds fitness uncertainty will come as a massive concern for new Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, with the Six Nations edging closer and with him set to take charge of his first training camp before the New Year. 

As well as his skill-set, many expect Sexton to take over the captaincy from recently retired Rory Best, with his experience being a key component to the Irish side. 

The good news for his province is that Ross Byrne has been in fine form so far this season after his Rugby World Cup omission from the Irish squad and has back-up from younger brother Harry as well as Ciaran Frawley, with Ross likely to take the starting spot this weekend. 

However, Leinster will be without backs Joe Tomane and Rory O’Loughlin this weekend, with the former set to be side-lined for up to eight weeks with a hamstring injury following a brilliant opening to the season, while the latter is suffering from a shoulder problem. 

In the forwards James Ryan is undergoing the return to play protocols after taking a knock to the head during Saturday’s win. 

Leinster and Ireland will hope that Sexton makes a speedy recovery, but for the boys in blue their eyes will be firmly set on this weekend’s fixture which could see them all but qualify for the knock-out stages of the competition and they will want to continue their perfect start to the season with an incredible 10 wins from 10.

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International

All Blacks Players’ Player of the Year Confirmed

The All Blacks have had an off-colour year compared to their usual high standards but there were some stand-out performers and the players have cast their vote on their player of the year

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

New Zealand back-rower Ardie Savea has been announced as the All Blacks Players’ Player of the Year for 2019.

The nation as a whole were disappointed with their year having lost out on the Rugby Championship and failing to retain their Rugby World Cup crown, with their rivals South Africa claiming both. 

However, despite all the downsides there were some stand-out performances and Savea has stood out among his peers for his showings this year beating fellow teammates Beauden Barrett, Kieran Read, Codie Taylor and Anton Lienert-Brown to the award. 

It brings Savea’s year to a bright ending after also being pipped to the World Player of the Year award by Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit last month. Although Savea will miss a chunk of the 2020 season having confirmed he will undergo surgery on a knee problem which will leave him side-lined for between four to six months.

Sevu Reece was handed the Players’ Super Rugby Player of the Year after finishing top of the try-scoring charts with the Crusaders

Meanwhile, in the women’s voting Charmaine McMenamin came out on top as the Players’ International Player of the Year. 

The New Zealand Rugby 2019 awards take place on Thursday with both Savea and McMenamin up for the Player of the Year award going up against Beauden Barrett and Lienert-Brown, and Black Ferns’ Kendra Cocksedge and Ayesha Leti-l’iga respectively.

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International

Cooper Talks About Kneeing McCaw in the Head

Quade Cooper has opened up on his career to date and in particular his controversial knee to Richie McCaw

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(Photo by CHRISTIAAN KOTZE/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia’s Quade Cooper has opened up on when he kneed former All Black Richie McCaw in the head and the backlash he received.

Cooper, a New Zealand-born Wallabies player, was talking on the Ice Project podcast with Isaac John about his rugby career to date and owned up to his “dirty” knee to McCaw’s head in a game leading up to the Rugby World Cup in 2011, admitting he apologised to the All Blacks legend years later.

“A few years later I’ve seen Richie in the airport and I went up to him and said, ‘Sorry about that’. It’s not that he didn’t care or he did care but, when I said sorry to him, I confronted it and said, ‘I really looked up to you as a kid, you were my idol, everyone in New Zealand loves you and I loved you, so when I played against you it was just emotion, passion took over, you were playing dirty on me and I kneed you. He’s one of the best at [dirty play],” he said.

The incident caused uproar among fans and the now veteran Wallaby, who has 70-caps to his name confirmed that he wasn’t ready for the backlash he received and how he couldn’t even go out.

“I look back at it now and I wasn’t ready for it. I had the expectation of 2011 of playing good football but now I had the pressure of all these guys hating me as well, and a whole country, not just the rugby public. I couldn’t go anywhere. I was on the team bus and there were signs ‘I hope you break your leg, I hope you die in this game’. If I had my time again, [because] I know how to handle it now, I’d just say, ‘Yeah I did it, so what?’. Not ‘So what?’, but ‘It’s part of footy, it was a bad play but I did it’, so what could people say?” he added.

In the end McCaw got the last laugh, going on to win the Rugby World Cup with New Zealand later that year.

Cooper’s career has had its ups and downs since, but he is now starting a new chapter in Japan with the Kintetsu Liners in the second-division where he will be hoping to stay out of the limelight.

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