All Blacks selectors Ian Foster, Jason Ryan and Joe Schmidt have announced a squad of 36 players for the Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship.
The 36-strong squad is as follows: (age, Super Rugby club, province, Test caps).
* denotes new caps
Codie Taylor (32, Crusaders / Canterbury, 76)
Dane Coles (36, Hurricanes / Wellington, 84)
Samisoni Taukei’aho (25, Chiefs / Waikato, 24)
Ethan de Groot (24, Highlanders / Southland, 13)
Fletcher Newell (23, Crusaders / Canterbury, 6)
Nepo Laulala (31, Blues / Counties Manukau, 45)
Ofa Tu’ungafasi (31, Blues / Northland, 50)
Tamaiti Williams (22, Crusaders / Canterbury, *)
Tyrel Lomax (27, Hurricanes / Tasman, 23)
Brodie Retallick (32, Chiefs / Hawkes Bay, 100)
Josh Lord (22, Chiefs / Taranaki, 2)
Samuel Whitelock (34, Crusaders / Canterbury, 143)
Scott Barrett (29, Crusaders / Taranaki, 58)
Tupou Vaa’i (23, Chiefs / Taranaki, 18)
Ardie Savea (29, Hurricanes / Wellington, 70)
Dalton Papali’i (25, Blues / Counties Manukau, 22)
Luke Jacobson (26, Chiefs / Waikato, 12)
Sam Cane (captain) (31, Chiefs / Bay of Plenty, 86)
Samipeni Finau (24, Chiefs / Waikato, *)
Shannon Frizell (29, Highlanders / Tasman, 25)
Aaron Smith (34, Highlanders / Manawatu, 114)
Finlay Christie (27, Blues / Tasman, 14)
Cam Roigard (22, Hurricanes / Counties Manukau, *)
Beauden Barrett (32, Blues / Taranaki, 112)
Damian McKenzie (28, Chiefs / Waikato, 40)
Richie Mo’unga (29, Crusaders / Canterbury, 44)
Anton Lienert-Brown (28, Chiefs / Waikato, 60)
Jordie Barrett (26, Hurricanes / Taranaki, 48)
Rieko Ioane (26, Blues / Auckland, 59)
Braydon Ennor (25, Crusaders / Canterbury, 6)
Dallas McLeod (24, Crusaders / Canterbury, *)
Caleb Clarke (24, Blues / Auckland, 15)
Emoni Narawa (23, Chiefs / Bay of Plenty, *)
Leicester Fainga’anuku (23, Crusaders / Tasman, 2)
Mark Telea (26, Blues / North Harbour, 2)
Will Jordan (25, Crusaders / Tasman, 21)
Note: Shaun Stevenson (26, Chiefs / North Harbour, *) has been added as injury cover for Mark Telea for the start of the Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship.
Unavailable due to injury: Angus Ta’avao, Ethan Blackadder, Cullen Grace, David Havili, Joe Moody, George Bower, Patrick Tuipulotu, Quinn Tupaea, Sevu Reece, TJ Perenara.
In naming his first squad of the year, All Blacks coach Ian Foster highlighted that the upcoming Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship is vital preparation for the Rugby World Cup later this year.
“We are very excited about the group we have selected,” Foster said. “The Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship is a vital piece in our preparation for the World Cup later in the year. It’s a key opportunity to get our game ready so we can enter the global tournament with confidence.”
Foster has also announced that Sam Cane will return as captain of the All Blacks.
“Sam has proven himself as a great leader of our team despite having had a disrupted couple of seasons leading into this one,” said Foster. “We have total belief that he is the right man to lead us.”
The selectors also congratulated the five uncapped players – Cam Roigard, Dallas McLeod, Emoni Narawa, Samipeni Finau and Tamaiti Williams – who have impressed in DHL Super Rugby Pacific.
“This is very special day for them and their families who I’m sure will be extremely proud of their achievements,” Foster said. “We have a new group of exciting players who will be keen to make a difference in the All Black jersey.”
A number of other capped All Blacks and emerging players will be given the opportunity to gain valuable experience on tour with the All Blacks XV. The squad will play two matches in Japan next month, boosting the depth in New Zealand’s talent pool as the Rugby World Cup approaches.
LINK: SEE THE ALL BLACKS XV SQUAD HERE
The All Blacks will begin their preapartions with a training camp at Mount Maunganui from June 21-23 for the non DHL Super Rugby Pacific finalists. The full squad will assemble in Auckland on June 27, before travelling to Mendoza for the opening Test of the year against Argentina on Saturday July 8th.
WEEK 1 vs. ARGENTINA. Saturday 8 July, 4:10PM (7:10AM, Sunday 9 July NZT), Estadio Malvinas, MENDOZA
WEEK 2 vs. SOUTH AFRICA. Saturday 15 July, 7.05PM, Go Media Stadium Mt Smart, AUCKLAND
WEEK 3 vs. AUSTRALIA. Saturday 29 July, 7.45PM (9:45PM NZT), Melbourne Cricket Ground, MELBOURNE
WEEK 4 vs. AUSTRALIA. Saturday 5 August, 2.35PM, Forsyth Barr Stadium, DUNEDIN
UNCAPPED PLAYER PROFILES:
POSITION Outside back
PROVINCE Bay of Plenty
SUPER RUGBY PACIFIC Chiefs
Fijian-born wing Emoni Narawa thrived in the Chiefs’ Super Rugby Pacific environment in 2023. The side’s attacking approach allowed him many opportunities to use his speed, and he shared in some great tries during the campaign.
He has had to wait his time. Coming out of Hamilton Boys’ High School, he made his first-class debut for Bay of Plenty when Chiefs’ coach Clayton McMillan was involved, and in 37 appearances for the union, he has scored 24 tries. His first Super Rugby home was with the Blues in 2020-21, but he made only seven appearances. Transferring to the Chiefs in 2022, he hasn’t looked back. Playing either at fullback or on the wing, he scored five tries in nine games.
In 2023, his game blossomed due to work put in during the off-season and he was a regular starter. One of the fastest players with the ball in hand, he has complemented the skills of the players inside him.
PROVINCE Counties Manukau
SUPER RUGBY PACIFIC Hurricanes
Cameron Roigard began his association with the Hurricanes as a replacement player during their 2020 pre-season programme. But such was the work ethic and dedication he showed his contract was extended for the 2020 campaign. He didn’t play but took his experience training with the side back to Pukekohe, where he debuted for Counties Manukau in the 2020 National Provincial Championship. He returned to Wellington for Super Rugby Pacific and debuted against the Crusaders.
While his opportunities were restricted as he played in the shadows of All Black TJ Perenara and the experienced Jamie Booth, Roigard showed enough to be named a member of the All Blacks XV in 2022, substituting for Perenara against Ireland A. With Perenara suffering an Achilles’ tendon injury when called into the All Blacks to play England, Roigard found himself with the chance for more starts with the Hurricanes, something he achieved with significant effect with some outstanding play in Super Rugby Pacific 2023.
POSITION Outside back
PROVINCE North Harbour
SUPER RUGBY PACIFIC Chiefs
Shaun Stevenson had an outstanding season for the Chiefs, one of the leading try scorers in Super Rugby Pacific in 2023. He played for the 2016 New Zealand Under-20s after being an NZ Secondary Schools selection in 2014. Around the first-class scene since making his provincial debut for Waikato in 2015, Stevenson has matured into a consistently high-performing player, whether at fullback or on the wing.
While he returned to his home region of North Harbour in 2017, the impression he made with Waikato saw the Chiefs sign him for Super Rugby, and he has remained with them. By 2022, he started to reap the benefits of his persistence when playing outstanding games for the Māori All Blacks, for whom he has played 12 games since 2017, and being selected for the All Blacks’ XV that toured in Ireland and England in 2022.
Coming into the 2023 season, he played from the outset with a high degree of confidence and in partnership with the Chiefs’ high-quality backline, he scored some outstanding tries and featured at the top of the tryscoring lists.
SUPER RUGBY PACIFIC Crusaders
Whangarei-born Tamaiti Williams burst onto the national scene when debuting for Canterbury in the National Provincial Championship in 2020. A year after he represented New Zealand Under-20 at the Junior World Championships, the Crusaders soon secured him, where he became part of a solid scrummaging unit including several All Blacks.
After debuting for Canterbury in 2020, his strong displays resulted in his selection for the Māori All Blacks. In 2022 he was included in the All Blacks XV, playing against the Ireland XV and the Barbarians on their tour.
A product of St Kentigern College in Auckland, he had an outstanding season for the Crusaders during their 2023 campaign. A strong scrummager, he has sound skills with the ball in hand and is dangerous close to the line.
WEIGHT 88 kg
PROVINCE Counties Manukau
SUPER RUGBY PACIFIC Hurricanes
Halfback Cam Roigard played for Counties Manukau in 2020 and was originally selected in the Hurricanes squad as a replacement player that year.
His contract was extended to cover the 2020 season and he debuted for the Hurricanes against the Crusaders in 2021.
The 22-year-old has caught the eye of selectors as a promising young player.
POSITION Midfield/outside back
SUPER RUGBY Pacific Crusaders
Centre Dallas McLeod was selected in the Crusaders for the 2020 season after an impressive debut season with Canterbury in the Mitre 10 Cup.
McLeod was a key member of the Canterbury Under 19 squad and was Vice Captain for the New Zealand side in the 2019 Under 20 World Championship in Argentina.
His skill and versatility are what has grabbed the selectors attention, as he can play outside or mid-field back positions.
POSITION Loose forward
SUPER RUGBY Pacific Chiefs
Born in Tonga, dynamic young loose forward Samipeni Finau played much of his rugby at fullback before switching to the loose forwards.
Finau was selected for the 2017 New Zealand Secondary Barbarians team in 2017 after an impressive season at St Peters School in Cambridge.
After playing for Waikato in the 2020 NPC, Finau made his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs in 2021 starting alongside Sam Cane and Luke Jacobson.
His speed and power off the side of the scrum made him a formidable player and he’s impressed his Chiefs team-mates with his versatility and his talent.
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
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.”
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.