THE THREE BARRETT brothers were named in a powerful All Blacks squad to face the British and Irish Lions, with Jordie Barrett one of only two new players in the New Zealand side.
Head coach Steve Hansen called it one of the “toughest” squads he has had to select as he assembled a group of 33 players with 1,164 Test caps worth of experience for a warm-up Test against Samoa and then the three-games series against Warren Gatland’s Lions.
Hansen gambled on a number of injured senior players – including captain Kieran Read [thumb], hooker Dane Coles [concussion] and centre Ryan Crotty [ribs] – passing fitness tests.
As a precaution, another five players were placed on standby as injury cover for the squad.
The 20-year-old Jordie Barrett, who accompanied the All Blacks as an ‘apprentice’ on their northern tour last year, steps up to join his older brothers Beauden and Scott with full All Blacks status.
It is the first time three brothers have been in the same All Blacks squad and only the fourth time three members of the same family have been made All Blacks.
Jodie Barrett’s Hurricanes teammate Ngani Laumape is the only other newcomer in a squad which includes four members of the Blues squad who beat the Lions 22-16 on Wednesday, as well as Jerome Kaino who is still recovering from knee surgery.
“This has been by far the toughest team that we’ve had to select for some time and some players who are in very good form missed out, and we always feel for them,” Hansen said.
“But as is the nature of Test rugby I’m sure a number of them will get an opportunity, if not in this series, then throughout the season.”
Of the two new All Blacks, Hansen said Barrett “has a skillset which is complete and has a great running and kicking game.
“Ngani too has been impressive throughout the Super season and has forced his way in through commanding performances,” continued Hansen.
The All Blacks boss has banked on Coles being fit although the 30-year-old hooker with 49 Tests to his name has been sidelined for almost three months with concussion symptoms.
Brodie Retallick was also named despite “headache” concerns keeping him out of Friday’s Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Hurricanes.
Rieko Ioane, 20, the latest model from the New Zealand production line of powerful wings, cemented his place with a blockbusting display for the Blues against the Lions at Eden Park this week.
Hansen said the Lions series, coming midway between the four-yearly World Cups, was “a great opportunity to gauge where we’re at from both an individual and a team perspective.
“As always, we’ll look forward to growing our game, as we know that if we don’t keep improving, others will go past us.”
Super Rugby leaders Crusaders, who the Lions face in Christchurch on Saturday, have 10 players in the squad which is made up of 17 forwards and 16 backs.
All Blacks squad for Lions series:
Forwards: Dane Coles (Wellington Hurricanes), Codie Taylor (Canterbury Crusaders), Nathan Harris (Waikato Chiefs), Owen Franks (Crusaders), Charlie Faumuina (Auckland Blues), Joe Moody (Crusaders), Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders), Ofa Tu’ungafasi (Blues), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders), Luke Romano (Crusaders), Scott Barrett (Crusaders), Sam Cane (Chiefs), Jerome Kaino (Blues), Kieran Read (capt, Crusaders), Ardie Savea (Hurricanes), Liam Squire (Otago Highlanders)
Backs: Aaron Smith (Highlanders), TJ Perenara (Hurricanes), Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs), Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), Aaron Cruden (Chiefs), Lima Sopoaga (Highlanders), Ryan Crotty (Crusaders), Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes), Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs), Sonny Bill Williams (Blues), Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes), Ben Smith (Highlanders), Julian Savea (Hurricanes), Waisake Naholo (Highlanders), Rieko Ioane (Blues), Israel Dagg (Crusaders).
Injury cover: Jack Goodhue (centre, Crusaders), Liam Coltman (hooker, Highlanders), Matt Todd (back row, Crusaders), Vaea Fifita (back row, Hurricanes), Akira Ioane (back row, Blues).
Source: The42 Rugby Show/SoundCloud
The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!