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Four Uncapped Players in All Blacks Squad

Steve Hansen has named his 39-man squad for the Rugby Championship and there are some big names missing

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Steve Hansen has announced his 39-man squad for the opening two games of this year’s shortened Rugby Championship and there are four new caps in it.

Chiefs loose forward Luke Jacobson, Highlanders Josh Ioane and Crusaders duo Braydon Ennor and Sevu Reece have all been called up for the first time.

Along with those four there could be two new test capped players in Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua and Chiefs prop Atu Moli, who have both only played in non-test matches for the All Blacks.

Head coach Hansen took the time to congratulate the newcomers and the players who have been called up once more into the national side.

“On behalf of the selectors, we want to congratulate the four new All Blacks named today – Luke, Josh, Braydon and Sevu. They’ve all performed to very high levels this year and played some outstanding rugby. It’s a special time being named in the All Blacks for the first time and they and their families can be proud of what they’ve achieved. We also congratulate the returning All Blacks and commiserate with those players who haven’t been named. As always, history has shown us opportunities will arise,” he said.

The key names missing from the squad are Waisake Naholo, Liam Squire (excluded himself from selection), Nathan Harris, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and Akira Ioane.

While Scott Barrett, Ryan Crotty, Tim Perry and Damien McKenzie are all absent through injury.

On the other hand, Chiefs halfback Brad Weber has received his first call up to the national side for four years following an impressive campaign.

Hansen is excited to have all the players together and at the possibility to claim a third Rugby World Cup in a row come the end of the year.

“It’s really exciting bringing the team together and we’re all looking forward to starting the work towards this year’s goals. We’re going to try and do something that’s never been done before and that’s to win three Rugby World Cups in a row. However, that’s not a given. We’re going to have to be hungry for success and we’re going to have to work incredibly hard and smart to achieve this. Whilst recapturing the Rugby World Cup and the Bledisloe Cup are two of the end goals for the year, we have to deal with the here and now, which is getting ready to face two quality oppositions in Argentina and South Africa,” he added.

The coach, who is set to step down from his post come the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup is also happy to have the opportunity to name a larger squad and be able to pick from a bigger pool of players.

“First and foremost, it allows us to pick a very strong squad for what will be a challenging first Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires, while at the same time giving most of the Crusaders players in the All Blacks a rest from what has been a very tough Super Rugby Finals campaign. For the new players, it allows us to meet them for the first time, introduce them to our environment and grow their understanding of their game and our game at international level,” he continued.

Hansen has his sights set on creating winning and attractive rugby during the first two games before having to narrow his squad down to 34-players for the side’s clash with Australia.

“The challenge and the aim of the first two matches is not only to play winning rugby but attractive, exciting rugby. To do this, we’ll have to quickly reconnect the players from the various Super Rugby clubs back into the All Blacks’ ways. We will need to master our game by improving our execution. To do this, our skillsets and decision making will be our key focus. Being a Rugby World Cup year, there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation from our many fans not only in New Zealand but also overseas. The squad is really looking forward to our fans’ support at all our Tests this year,” he finished.

Kieran Read will captain the team once more throughout their campaign as they hope to add yet another Rugby Championship title to their cabinet before setting off to Japan in search of another piece of history.

Check Out the Full 39-Man Squad Below.

Asafo Aumua (22, Hurricanes / Wellington, uncapped)

Beauden Barrett (32, Hurricanes / Wellington, 60)

Jordie Barrett (22, Hurricanes / Taranaki, 9)

GeorgeBridge (24, Crusaders / Canterbury, 1)

Sam Cane (27, Chiefs / Bay of Plenty, 60)

Dane Coles (32, Hurricanes / Wellington, 60)

Liam Coltman (29, Highlanders / Otago, 4)

Braydon Ennor (21, Crusaders / Canterbury, new cap)

Vaea Fifita (30, Crusaders / Canterbury, 108)

Owen Franks (31, Crusaders / Canterbury, 106)

Shannon Frizell (25, Highlanders / Tasman, 4)

Jack Goodhue (24, Crusaders / Northland, 7)

Jackson Hemopo (25, Highlanders / Manawatu, 3)

Josh Ioane (23, Highlanders / Otago, new cap)

Rieko Ioane (22, Blues / Auckland, 24)

Luke Jacobson (22, Chiefs / Waikato, new cap)

Nepo Laulala (27, Chiefs / Counties Manukau, 17)

Ngani Laumape (26, Hurricanes / Manawatu, 10)

Anton Lienert-Brown (24, Chiefs / Waikato, 33)

Atu Moli (24, Chiefs / Tasman, uncapped)

Joe Moody (30, Crusaders /Canterbury, 37)

Richie Mo’unga (25, Crusaders / Canterbury, 9)

Dalton Papali’i (21, Blues / Auckland, 2)

TJ Perenara (27, Hurricanes / Wellington, 55)

Kieran Read (c) (33, Crusaders / Counties Manukau, 118)

Sevu Reece (22, Crusaders / Waikato, new cap)

Brodie Retallick (28, Chiefs / Hawke’s Bay, 75)

Ardie Savea (25, Hurricanes / Wellington, 35)

Aaron Smith (30, Highlanders / Manawatu, 82)

Ben Smith (33, Highlanders /Otago, 76)

Angus Ta’avao (29, Chiefs / Taranaki, 3)

Codie Taylor (28, Crusaders / Canterbury, 41)

Matt Todd (31, Crusaders / Canterbury, 17)

Karl Tu’inukuafe (26, Blues / North Harbour, 13)

Patrick Tuipulotu (26, Blues / Auckland, 21)

Ofa Tu’ungafasi (27, Blues / Auckland, 26)

Brad Weber (28, Chiefs / Hawke’s Bay, 1)

Sam Whitelock (30, Crusaders / Canterbury, 108)

Sonny Bill Williams (33, Blues / Counties Manukau, 51)

Not considered for selection due to injury: Ryan Crotty, Scott Barrett, Tim Perry and Damian McKenzie.

Unavailable for selection: Liam Squire has also made himself unavailable as he felt he wasn’t ready to return to international rugby at this stage.

6 Nations

Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby

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Image Credit: London Irish

London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.

The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.

O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011. 

He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017. 

O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation. 

On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.

“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions. 

“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years. 

“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy. 

“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.

“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland. 

“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.

“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.

“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old. 

“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport. 

“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.

“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them. 

“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.

“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us. 

“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.

“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career. 

“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey. 

“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family. 

“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years. 

“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.

“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then. 

“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.

“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be. 

“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”

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6 Nations

Ryan And Baird Ruled Out Of Scotland Game. 2 called up.

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ireland squad returned to Dublin on Saturday evening following the victory over England at Twickenham and reassembled at Carton House on Sunday evening.

James Ryan will not be considered for selection this week and his return to rugby protocols will be supervised by the Leinster Medical Team. Ryan Baird is ruled out of the final fixture of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations with a back issue.

Uncapped locks Ross Molony and Joe McCarthy have been called up to train with the squad. Ross has been involved in Ireland squads since the summer of 2021 while Joe, a former Ireland U20 player, made his Leinster debut against Cardiff in January having impressed for Dublin University in the Energia AIL.

Robert Baloucoune, Nick Timoney and Mike Lowry all return after lining out for Ulster in the URC against Leinster at the weekend.

Ireland play Scotland in the final round of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championship on Saturday 19th March at 4.45pm. The game is being televised by Virgin (ROI) and ITV (NI).

Ireland Squad Round 5 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championships

Backs (16)
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 36 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 31 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 11 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 5 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 30 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 16 caps
Mack Hansen (Connacht) 3 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 56 caps
James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 3 caps
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 19 caps
James Lowe (Leinster) 11 caps
Michael Lowry (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 95 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 41 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 104 caps CAPTAIN

Forwards (19)
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 22 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 29 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 26 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 16 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 56 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 115 caps
Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 6 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 67 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 25 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 47 caps
Jeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen) uncapped
Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin) uncapped
Ross Molony (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 83 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 6 caps
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 caps
Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 4 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 39 caps

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6 Nations

Johnny Sexton Signs Contract Extension to 2023 Rugby World Cup

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Photo Credit - Irish Rugby

Ireland and Leinster out-half Johnny Sexton has signed a contract extension up until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

In November Johnny earned his 100th cap for Ireland against Japan and played a pivotal role in Ireland’s third defeat of New Zealand. He hit the milestone of 500 Six Nations Championship points against Wales in Round 1 of this year’s tournament and has represented Ireland on 103 occasions to date.

The former World Player of the Year was appointed Ireland captain by Andy Farrell in January 2020 and has led the team to ten victories in his 13 game tenure as the on field general.

Johnny made his international debut against Fiji in November 2009 and has represented Ireland at three Rugby World Cups (2011, 2015 & 2019). Johnny is a two time Lions tourist (2013 & 2017) and has won three Six Nations titles with Ireland and five European Cups with Leinster. He has represented his provinces on 178 occasions, scoring 1549 points.

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented: “Johnny’s performances continue to be of the highest standard and he remains an integral member of the Ireland and Leinster squads.  He has always been a leader on the field and in the past two years since taking on the Ireland captaincy his leadership off it has been top class. Johnny is a generational player and we are delighted that he has extended to 2023.”

 Johnny Sexton, commented: “I always said that if I am enjoying my rugby and the Ireland and Leinster set-ups believe I can add value to the environment then it would be an easy decision to sign another contract.  There is some great talent coming through at Leinster at present and I am excited about the prospect of competing at a fourth World Cup with Ireland and the potential for growth in this group between now and then.”

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