Four Blues in black for RWC

Four Blues in black for RWC

Four Blues men have been selected in the All Blacks squad for the Rugby World Cup 2015. Charlie Faumuina, Jerome Kaino, Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock will travel over to England to help the All Blacks defend the Web Ellis Cup.

The squad was unveiled by New Zealand Rugby Chairman Brent Impey in front of a packed audience at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, this evening.

The All Blacks Rugby World Cup squad is: (with province and Test caps)

Forwards:

Hookers
Dane Coles (Wellington, 30 Tests)
Keven Mealamu (Auckland, 126 Tests)
Codie Taylor (Canterbury, three Tests)

Props
Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury, 40 Tests)
Charlie Faumuina (Auckland, 27 Tests)
Ben Franks (Hawke’s Bay, 43 Tests)
Owen Franks (Canterbury, 72 Tests)
Tony Woodcock (North Harbour, 115 Tests)

Locks
Brodie Retallick (Bay of Plenty, 41 Tests)
Luke Romano (Canterbury, 20 Tests)
Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury, 66 Tests)

Loose forwards
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty, 24 Tests)
Jerome Kaino (Auckland, 60 Tests)
Richie McCaw, captain (Canterbury, 142 Tests)
Liam Messam (Waikato, 42 Tests)
Kieran Read (Canterbury, 77 Tests)
Victor Vito (Wellington, 28 Tests)

Backs:

Halfbacks
Tawera Kerr–Barlow (Waikato, 15 Tests)
TJ Perenara (Wellington, 15 Tests)
Aaron Smith (Manawatu, 41 Tests)

First five–eighths
Beauden Barrett (Taranaki, 30 Tests)
Daniel Carter (Canterbury, 106 Tests)
Colin Slade (Canterbury, 20 Tests)

Midfielders
Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland, 11 Tests)
Ma’a Nonu (Wellington, 97 Tests)
Conrad Smith (Wellington, 88 Tests)
Sonny Bill Williams (Counties Manukau, 26 Tests)

Outside backs
Nehe Milner-Skudder (Manawatu, two Tests)
Waisake Naholo (Taranaki, one Test)
Julian Savea (Wellington, 35 Tests)
Ben Smith (Otago, 41 Tests)

The squad, captained by Richie McCaw, features 17 forwards and 14 backs with the following positional breakdown: three hookers, five props, three locks, six loose forwards, three halfbacks, three first five-eighths, four midfielders and four outside backs. It will be a particularly exciting time for 17 of the All Blacks squad, who will be going to their first Rugby World Cup tournament.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “The selectors would like to congratulate all those players selected for the Rugby World Cup squad. It’s a huge honour to represent your country on the international stage. It’s the pinnacle for any New Zealand rugby player and we know the players and their families will be immensely proud of what they have achieved, as are we.

“Conversely, we know that there are some players who are disappointed. We are a tight-knit family and it’s always difficult when players miss out. Those players did everything asked of them and the selections are more a reflection of the player depth that we have, and the mix of players required to effectively manage a 31-strong squad at what is a unique Tournament with a unique set of replacement player rules.

“I’m sure it won’t be the last time a lot of the players who have missed out play for the All Blacks. As we have seen in previous Rugby World Cups, anything can happen with injuries, and we want those players to be ready to step in if needed.

“To the fans I would like to say: our attitude going into this Rugby World Cup is not a case of expecting it, but one of making it happen. The Cup isn’t ours. We are not defenders; like everyone else, we are contenders. We have to earn the right to win it through world-class performances.

“In doing so, we have to do something that no-one has ever done before. But that is a hugely exciting challenge and one I believe the team will rise to. With this in mind, we believe we have selected players with the right mix of experience, x-factor, determination and mental strength. This is an exciting and talented group of players who are looking to do something that hasn’t been done before, and make New Zealanders proud.”

The squad features provincial representation from 11 of New Zealand’s ITM Cup provinces and all New Zealand’s five Investec Super Rugby clubs are represented. With 1,484 caps spread amongst the 31-man squad, it’s a hugely experienced side, balanced with a number of newer All Blacks, with nine players having played fewer than 25 Tests. The side has an average age of 28.