All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has made an unexpected selection decision by naming both Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga in his starting XV to face Canada at the Rugby World Cup in Japan on Wednesday.
Many had expected Hansen to rest one of his only two natural fly-halves against minnows Canada, or even to name Barrett’s younger brother Jordie at 10 but he has decided to stick with the star duo.
They are two of only four players to have retained their places in the first-team line-up, with the others in the pack in the form of captain Kieran Read and Scott Barrett.
With that in mind it is an entirely new front-row to the one that defeated the Springboks 23-13 last weekend meaning it is Atu Moli, Liam Coltman and Angus Ta’avao in the front-three, with Patrick Tuipulotu and Scott Barrett behind them in the second-row.
Shannon Frizzell is at blindside-flanker, with Matt Todd on the openside with Read completing the pack from No 8.
The experienced TJ Perenara comes in to replace Aaron Smith at scrum-half as he links-up with Mo’unga in the half-backs, with a strong centre partnership outside them in the form of Sonny Bill Williams and Jack Goodhue.
Rieko Ioane gets a chance to impress on the left-wing after falling down the pecking order in recent times, with Jordie Barrett on the right-wing and brother Beauden at full-back.
There is a serious amount of experience for Hansen to call upon from the bench with the likes of Codie Taylor, Sam Whitelock, Ardie Savea and Ben Smith to being on if needed.
Speaking ahead of the game Hansen admitted that with two games in four days his team’s aim is to win and continue building momentum as they look toward the quarter-finals.
“Our aim is to win the next two pool matches against Canada and Namibia, as well as continuing to grow our game and manage the workload across the group. With two games four days apart, it’s obvious that we need to use our whole squad. Whilst there’s a huge amount of energy and excitement amongst the whole team about what lies ahead, this week there has been a real focus on ourselves and our own standards,” he said.
New Zealand will be looking to take a step closer when they play the Canadians on Wednesday after an impressive win against rivals the Springboks in their opening pool match. A win here will put them on in a good position going into that Namibian game on Sunday while they will also be hoping not to pick up any injuries before that clash.
Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.
1: Atu Moli (2)
2: Liam Coltman (6)
3: Angus Ta’avao (9)
4: Patrick Tuipulotu (26)
5: Scott Barrett (32)
6: Shannon Frizell (6)
7:Matt Todd (21)
8: Kieran Read – captain (123)
9: TJ Perenara (60)
10: Richie Mo’unga (13)
11: Rieko Ioane (26)
12: Sonny Bill Williams (54)
13: Jack Goodhue (9)
14: Jordie Barrett (12)
15: Beauden Barrett (79)
16: Codie Taylor (46)
17: Ofa Tuungafasi (31)
18: Nepo Laulala (21)
19: Samuel Whitelock (113)
20: Ardie Savea (40)
21: Brad Weber (2)
22: Ryan Crotty (46)
23: Ben Smith (81)
Official. Eddie Jones signs new England Deal.
England men’s head coach Eddie Jones and the RFU have agreed a contract extension which will see him continue his role until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
Jones joined England Rugby at the end of 2015 and has coached the men’s national side on 54 occasions winning 42, drawing one and losing 11 – giving him a win ratio of 78%, the highest in the history of England coaches.
Under Jones, England has won two Six Nations titles including a Grand Slam in 2016, a 3-0 away Test series win against Australia in the same year, an unbeaten run of 18 matches equalling New Zealand’s record and were finalists at last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Jones said: “The extension is a great honour for me, but in the current environment, it is only right to acknowledge what a difficult time the world is facing. We are all looking forward to a time when we can get back to playing rugby and use the sport as a force for good in bringing people back together. I never thought coming here four years ago I would be doing a second four years but the circumstances are right. Obviously it is important for the team that we keep improving and my focus will be solely on that.
“I am excited about raising the standards again. We have a great team. We set out four years ago to be the best team in the world and unfortunately we missed that by 80 minutes. Now we want to be the team that is remembered as being the greatest team the game has ever seen. It’s a big ambition but I believe we are capable of doing it. We have players with an enhanced reputation, we have a team that is expected to do well, so it’s a great opportunity for us to keep moving forward.”
Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO said: “My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by COVID-19, both across the country at large but also within our own rugby union community. In exceptionally difficult times, we are pleased to be sharing some good news. We are delighted that Eddie will continue as head coach to run England’s campaign to take us to the 2023 Rugby World Cup. His record since joining speaks for itself and he has proven why he is one of the best coaches in world rugby. The progress shown by England since 2015 has been indisputable and having fielded the youngest-ever team to play in a World Cup final, we know even more growth is possible. We are all excited by what this squad can do and having Eddie leading the team is very important to us.
“We reached an understanding soon after returning from Japan but there were some things that we wanted to make sure worked for both sides. We have announced Eddie’s contract extension a few weeks later than planned as our focus was diverted to support the English rugby community during this difficult time, we are now turning our attention to developing plans to support the rebooting of rugby and a winning England team will provide a vital role in that.”
Ahead of the Guinness Six Nations Jones confirmed Simon Amor and Matt Proudfoot would join Steve Borthwick and John Mitchell as his assistant coaches. Jason Ryles will join later in the year as skills coach following Borthwick’s departure towards the end of the season.
Ireland Climb in Latest World Rankings
Ireland have had the biggest boost in the latest World Rugby Rankings ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw later this year
The boys in green have taken over the No 4 spot in the rankings following their 24-14 win over Wales in the Six Nations over the weekend, with their opponents dropping down to fifth.
It is a major boost for the Irish and gives them something to hold on to heading into the rest of this year’s fixtures as they are now currently in the top seeds ahead of the draw for the pool stages of France 2023.
World Rugby announced recently that they will hold the draw later this year meaning that teams will have less time to climb the rankings than last time around when they had 18 months between the previous World Cup and the draw for the next one.
A total of twelve teams will head into the draw as seeds in three brackets with the top four in the rankings being first seeds, meaning as of now Wales would be second seeds along with France, Australia and Japan.
Elsewhere in the rankings Georgia have moved up ahead of Italy, following the former’s latest two defeats in the Six Nations, while the biggest risers have been Portugal, who have moved from 22nd to 20th, but Russia have dived from 20th to 25th.
Ireland will be hoping to continue their perfect start to the Six Nations campaign when they take on the third-ranked team England away from home, whom they may look to overtake in the rankings before the draw.
World Rugby Confirm Timing of 2023 RWC Draw
World Rugby have confirmed when they will be hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw and it has put pressure on teams to get positive results this year
World Rugby has announced that it will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw in November of this year.
The tournament will take place in France with the draw being held in Paris following the November internationals.
That means that teams only have between now and then to better their current rankings and move into a different drawing band, whereas for the previous draw they had 18 months to improve.
Speaking on the announcement World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont is excited to discover the fate of the teams and has put the pressure on teams to do well this year.
“The pool draw is an important milestone on the road to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France as it really drives excitement and momentum both in the host nation and throughout the global rugby family – it is the moment teams and fans can start to plan. With the World Rugby rankings determining the bands for the RWC 2023 pool draw, it promises to be a fascinating year of men’s international rugby with every match counting towards seeding at the end of the November Test series,” he said.
Twelve of the 20 participating teams from last year’s World Cup in Japan have automatically qualified, with the other eight to be decided in the qualifiers that will begin later this year.
However, the twelve teams that are already involved will have to be at their best to move up a band in the current rankings or fear dropping down in which case they could get a harder draw.
As of this moment the first band contains the World Cup semi-finalists from last year in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Wales, with the remaining quarter-finalists making up band two in Ireland, Australia, Japan and France.
It will be a tough task for teams to improve their current standings with the Six Nations teams only having one edition of the tournament to improve compared to the two editions they had last time around, but it does add some extra competition to this year’s fixtures.