All Black Squad

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has named his 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.

There are a couple of surprises in the squad. 

Not wholly unexpected is the exclusion of veteran prop Owen Franks, but the exclusion of midfielder Ngani Laumape is something of a surprise. Hansen has decided to go with Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty as his preferred inside centre option, banking on Crotty’s return to fitness before the tournament kicks off in three weeks time.

Another surprise is the inclusion of Reiko Ioane, who just two weeks ago seemed to have been sent home to rethink his career.

Liam Squire, although he has indicated his availability, has not been selected.

Atu Moli, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Angus Ta’avao and Ofa Tuungafasi go to Japan as the All Black props.

Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams are the midfield options.

The squad features 17 forwards and 14 backs. The squad consists of three hookers, five props, four locks, five loose forwards, three scrum-halves, two fly-halves, four midfielders and five outside backs.

The overall squad as has plenty of international experience, with 1,195 Test caps between them. The squad seems balanced, with some very experienced campaigners set off with a number of newer All Blacks. 

Kieran Read is the most capped player with 121 Test caps, while loose forward Luke Jacobson is the newest All Black with one Test cap. 

After taking a ribbing from the Aussie press about the age of the squad, it is interesting to note that the squad has an average age of 27. 

There are, however, still a number of players who are over the 30-year old mark. Dane Coles is 32, Joe Moody is 30, Sam Whitelock 30, Kieran Read 33, Matt Todd 31, Aaron Smith 30, Ryan Crotty 30, Sonny Bill Williams 34, and Ben Smith 33. 

Nine are 30 or older, and 2 are on the verge of 30 at 29. 

Liam Coltman and Angus Ta’avao are the 29-year olds. There are a couple of 28-year olds too.

They are counterbalanced by a host of 24-year olds, and then there are the team’s youngsters Jordie Barrett, Reiko Ioane, Sevu Reece and Luke Jacobson, who are all 22 years of age. 

The squad features 11 players from the Crusaders franchise, 8 Chiefs, 5 Blues, 4 Hurricanes, and 3 Highlanders.

The All Blacks will be captained by Kieran Read, who will be taking part in his third Rugby World Cup, together with lock Samuel Whitelock and centre Williams. Nine players will be going to their second tournament, while 19 are going to their first.

New Zealand Squad for Rugby World Cup

Forwards: Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Liam Coltman, Atu Moli, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Angus Ta’avao, Ofa Tuungafasi, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Sam Whitelock, Patrick Tuipulotu, Kieran Read (c), Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Matt Todd, Luke Jacobson

Backs: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith