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International

Barrett and Mo’unga Start for All Blacks

The All Blacks have made a host of changes for their match against the Springboks this weekend and fans will be delighted by the possibility of seeing two world-class playmakers line-up together

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The All Blacks have rotated their squad ahead of this Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against the Springboks at the Westpac Stadium.

Head coach Steve Hansen has brought back in many of their Crusaders contingent including fly-half Richie Mo’unga, meaning that Beauden Barrett moves to fullback. With fans particularly excited to see the two playmakers start in the same team.

There is also a return to the back-line for star centre Sonny Bill Williams who has recovered from a hamstring injury and gain some much-needed game-time ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Experience runs through the entire team with Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Owen Franks replacing last weekend’s front-row trio of Ofa Tuungafasi, Dane Coles and Angus Ta’avao, all of whom are named among the replacements.

Slotting in behind them are Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick, with Shannon Frizell and Matt Todd on the flanks and Kieran Read captaining the side from No 8.

TJ Perenara opens alongside Mo’unga in the half-backs, with Williams at inside-centre and Jack Goodhue in the 13 channel.

Rieko Ioane begins on the left-wing, with Ben Smith shifting to the right to accommodate Barrett at full-back.

As well as the star front-rowers on the bench there are also the likes of Aaron Smith and Anton Lienert-Brown to call upon.

Speaking ahead of the game Hansen admitted that he is excited to see how this team works out and is hoping to build on last weekend’s 20-16 win over Argentina.

“The selectors are once again very excited with the team we’ve selected and are very much looking forward to seeing them play. The key for us this week has been to continue building on the very good groundwork we’ve put in over the last couple of weeks. Whilst we were a little rusty last week, we’re looking forward to seeing improvements in all areas of our game this week,” he said.

The Springboks are in fine form and ran out 35-17 winners against Australia last week, having rested many of their star names and Hansen knows that they will provide a tough challenge.

“It’s always an exciting occasion when we play the Springboks. We have a lot of respect for them and love playing them, as they bring many challenges to the contest. One of those challenge this week will be to not only match the physicality of the Boks, but to impose our own physicality on the game, and execute our game and our skillsets at a higher level,” he added.

He closed-up by encouraging fans to get behind the team in what is their opening home fixture this year.

“We love playing in Wellington and this is the first of only three home Tests for the team this year before the Rugby World Cup, so we’re looking forward to seeing a full house in full voice at Westpac Stadium on Saturday,” he finished.

The game on Saturday will provide a dress-rehearsal for when the two sides meet during the Rugby World Cup later this year. While it could also decide the winner of this year’s shortened Rugby Championship.

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

1. Joe Moody (37)

2. Codie Taylor (41)

3. Owen Franks (106)

4. Brodie Retallick (76)

5. Samuel Whitelock (108)

6. Shannon Frizell (4)

7. Matt Todd (17)

8. Kieran Read – captain (118)

9. TJ Perenara (55)

10. Richie Mo’unga (9)

11. Rieko Ioane (24)

12. Sonny Bill Williams (51)

13. Jack Goodhue (7)

14. Ben Smith (77)

15. Beauden Barrett (74)

16. Dane Coles (61)

17. Ofa Tuungafasi (27)

18. Angus Ta’avao (4)

19. Vaea Fifita (10)

20. Dalton Papalii (2)

21. Aaron Smith (83)

22. Anton Lienert-Brown (34)

23. George Bridge (1)


International

Savea back at the helm of the Hurricanes

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All Blacks loose forward Ardie Savea will captain the Hurricanes again for the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season.

Savea, who will have his 11th season in the side, will mark his first appearance in the competition by playing his 120th game.

The Hurricanes’ season opens against the Reds in round one.

Savea said: “I’m looking forward to the season, especially getting out to the communities, when we play in Levin against the Crusaders for our pre-season game and Palmerston North against the Western Force on Sunday, April 2.

“We’ve just moved into our new facility, and there’s something awesome about change; it’s brought in a lot of energy. It’s refreshing to come in and be in a new space alongside other professional teams. Hopefully, being here can help us move forward and prepare well for our games.”

The facility is part of the New Zealand Campus of Innovation and Sport at what was the Central Institute of Technology at Trentham and houses, several Wellington-based teams.

Coach Jason Holland was delighted to be able to call on Savea’s leadership ability again.

“Ardie is a special leader. He’s the sort of guy you want to follow in whatever he does. He’s worked hard at his leadership around all the small details, around how to get the best out of the people around him.

“He’s been good at driving us as a group, players and management, about being well-planned and clear in our roles in what we’re leading.

“Ards has a great relationship with all the boys and cares about them and the team and that shows in the way he leads.”

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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International

Marshall primed for Crusaders coaching opportunity

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James Marshall couldn’t escape rugby’s draw after retiring from playing and failed in his promised avoidance of the coaching ranks.

The former Super Rugby title winner with the Hurricanes has fitted into coaching so well that he will spend 2023 as backs coach for the Crusaders in Super Rugby Pacific.

Auckland-born Marshall started his rugby career with Tasman, but when missing a place in the Super Rugby structure, in a team or wider training group, he had a chance as a 20-year-old to play in Italy with Zebre.

It proved a stimulating experience in coping with playing a different style of rugby at a different level.

He returned to New Zealand six months later for another three seasons with Tasman before getting a chance in the Hurricanes’ wider squad. He had spent four years trying to get a place in the Crusaders.

“I could never crack it as a player but I’m here now as a coach,” he said.

“It is surreal to be here now. When I finished rugby, I promised my wife I wouldn’t get into coaching. We had moved around so many times during my career, even when I was playing for the Hurricanes moving to Taranaki every six months.

“We worked it out there were well over 20 houses we lived in throughout my career so when I got to the end of it I did say I wouldn’t be chasing the coaching dream, and I wouldn’t be moving the family around any more.”

However, back in Nelson, he got the chance to work with Andrew Goodman and Shane Christie, which gave him coaching work where he had decided to settle.

“Then a couple of years later,, I get a call from Razor [Scott Robertson] and it really throws a spanner in the works for my wife and when I got the opportunity, it was a no brainer. It’s such a good opportunity for me to learn and see where coaching can now take me.”

He contacted David Havili to see if he felt Marshall could do the job asked of him as backs coach and to see if he would have the backing of the players.

Havili got back in touch to say how much he thought Marshall could add to the environment. He also contacted some of his Hurricanes contacts and admitted being surprised at how supportive they were.

The Crusaders were one of the most successful sides in the sport’s history, and looking from the outside while playing, he had always wondered what went on and how they did it.

“It’s been impressive. It’s a well-run ship. Razor does a great job. Scotty Hansen, the detail he has on the rugby programme. Tamati Ellison, some of his coaching, it’s all world-class.

“It’s been awesome for me as a young coach to witness these guys at work and try and learn as much as I can off them.

“There’s also the players. It’s a pretty impressive squad when you look at it on paper and the chance to work with some world-class athletes and try and teach them as much as I can, but also try and learn from them,” he said.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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6 Nations

RTÉ And Virgin Media Confirm Details Of Free-To-Air Six Nations Coverage

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RTÉ and Virgin Media Television today announced details of its joint Guinness Six Nations coverage, where the action will be free-to-air for supporters in the Republic of Ireland.

Kicking off on Friday, 3 February, this year’s Six Nations coverage will include all fixtures from Ireland’s Men’s, Women’s and U20 tournaments.

The partnership will see all games equally aired across both broadcasters again this year.

The 2023 Men’s Six Nations will open with Ireland v Wales on Virgin Media One, followed by England v Scotland on RTÉ2. Ireland will then take on current champions France on Saturday, 11 February.

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations will begin on Sunday, 26 March with Wales v Ireland.

Speaking at this morning’s launch at the Aviva Stadium, presenters Jacqui Hurley and Joe Molloy were joined on stage by members of their broadcast teams this year including pundits Rob Kearney, Fiona Hayes (Virgin Media Television), and RTÉ’s Jamie Heaslip and Hannah Tyrrell.

RTÉ also confirmed that Irish international and Munster player Simon Zebo will be joining their punditry team.

Commenting, Head of RTÉ Sport, Declan McBennett said: “With this being a great year for rugby, there is added excitement about this year’s Six Nations which RTÉ is once again bringing to sports fans all over the country free-to-air along with Virgin Media Ireland as part of our historic partnership which we launched last year.

“It’s going to be a huge year for Irish rugby and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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