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Five New Faces in All Blacks Squad for Pumas Clash

There are five debutants among the matchday 23 for the All Blacks as they prepare to face Argentina

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(Photo credit MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images)

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has named five uncapped players in his 23-man squad to face Argentina this Saturday in Buenos Aires.

Hansen has handed winger Sevu Reece a starting role following an impressive season for the Crusaders, while Atu Moli, Luke Jacobson, Josh Ioane and Braydon Ennor have all been named on the bench for the All Blacks opening game of this year’s shortened Rugby Championship.

As well as them there is an interesting selection with Jordie Barrett being named on the left-wing. The 22-year-old has played on the right-wing once before for the All Blacks but has switched to accommodate Reece it would seem.

There is plenty of experience mixed among the youth with the likes of Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Ben Smith, Beauden Barrett and Ben Smith all starting.

The front-row is made up of Ofa Tuungafasi, Dane Coles and Angus Ta’avao, with Retallick and Patrick Tuipulotu slotting in behind in the second-row.

Vaea Fifita, captain Cane and Ardie Savea start at six, seven and eight respectively.

Aaron Smith and Barrett partner one another once again in the half-backs, while Ngani Laumape and Anton Lienert-Brown are just outside them in the centre positions.

Jordie Barrett, Reece and Ben Smith make up the starting XV.

As well as the youngsters on the bench there is also the return of Brad Webber who is in line to make his first All Blacks appearance since his 17-minute debut against Samoa four years ago.

Head coach Hansen spoke of how he is excited to see the new players in the test environment for the first time.

“As always, with the first game of the season, we’ve worked hard on building our relationships, re-establishing our connections and combinations and getting clarity in our roles. We’ll continue to nail the details further in training throughout the week so that we are bright, clear and excited to play with real intensity come Saturday. It’s going to be exciting to watch how the new All Blacks perform along with their more experienced teammates. The team is a mixture of experience and raw enthusiasm, which I’m sure everyone is looking forward to seeing come together and play,” he said.

He went on to discuss how Argentina will not be an easy test and believes that the Pumas will be fully up for the challenge following the Jaguares impressive form in the Super Rugby this year.

“We have the utmost respect for Argentina. We know that we’ll be facing a confident, physical side. Their players will have taken a lot of confidence and self-belief from the Jaguares Super Rugby season, and with the inclusion of their overseas players, there will be added excitement to their group. They will see this game as a massive opportunity to make a statement and it will be our job to make a statement of our own,” he added.

New Zealand will hope to kick-start their Rugby Championship with a win, knowing that their Crusaders contingent will return to the squad next week, with this being a chance for some players to lay down a marker in their absence.

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

1. Ofa Tuungafasi (26)

2. Dane Coles (60)

3. Angus Ta’avao (3)

4. Brodie Retallick (75)

5. Patrick Tuipulotu (21)

6. Vaea Fifita (9)

7. Sam Cane – captain (58)

8. Ardie Savea (35)

9. Aaron Smith (82)

10. Beauden Barrett (73)

11. Jordie Barrett (9)

12. Ngani Laumape (10)

13. Anton Lienert-Brown (33)

14. Sevu Reece *

15. Ben Smith (72)

Reserves:

16. Liam Coltman (4)

17. Atu Moli *

18. Nepo Laulala (17)

19. Jackson Hemopo (3)

20. Luke Jacobson *

21. Brad Weber (1)

22. Josh Ioane *

23. Braydon Ennor *


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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