It may have come around a quarter of a year later than scheduled, but the All Blacks squad has now finally been announced. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the naming of the squad came after months of anticipation, with fans keen to find out who from the Super Rugby Aotearoa managed to make the squad for a test schedule that’s still to be confirmed.
Impatient sports and sports betting fans had other options, such as spending time at an online casino nz, which offers another kind of excitement. Not that rugby fans are ready to dessert their favorite sport just yet. With seven players getting their introductions into the All Blacks squad, and with a few others who were unlucky not to be named, here are the winners and the losers from the 35-man squad.
Winner: Akira Ioane
Perhaps the man who should be relieved more than any other at been included in the squad, Ioane had showed potential for years. Unfortunately, it was potential that was never realized, and last year, even former head coach Steven Hansen called him out for being lazy.
It seems that he took the criticism on board and worked on his mindset, work rate, defense, and ability at the breakdown. All that work resulted in a masterful showing at the Super Rugby Aotearoa, and now the 25-year-old has been called up for the first time in three years.
Loser: Lachlan Boshier
The unluckiest player not to be invited to the squad was a man who could perhaps see it coming, after all, he was also omitted from the recent North squad in their match up against the South. It’s tough to handle for a player who impressed throughout Super Rugby Aotearoa. Unfortunately, for Boshier, it wasn’t enough for All Blacks coach Ian Foster. Instead, Foster opted for Dalton Papali over Boshier to back up Ardie Savea and Sam Cane.
Winner: Tupou Vaa’i
Vaa’i wasn’t a full-time Super Rugby player at the start of the year. In fact, he hadn’t even played for the chiefs until he played in the Super Rugby Aotearoa in June. Now almost three later, the All Blacks finally decided to introduce him to the squad. With Pari Pari Parkinson, Scott Barrett, and Brodie Retallick all unavailable, lock depth is less than perfect, but the call up of Vaa’i is definitely one that’s all about the long-term future of the position.
Loser: Angus Ta’avao
Having seen no rugby for six months, thanks to a leg injury from the Chiefs opening Super Rugby competition match, it hasn’t been an easy way back for Ta’avao. With a tear in his quadriceps muscle, the prop had only three matches to impress the All Blacks. Unfortunately, for Ta’avao, the play of Tyrel Lomax made this one an easy decision.
Winner: Hoskins Sotutu
When one-time All Blacks captain Kieran Read walked away from the international game last year, there was a big question mark over who would replace him. No-one stood up to make the claim. Except for Hoskins Sotutu. The 22-year-old player has been so good in both attacking and that he impressed both Fiji head coach Vern Cotter and England boss Eddie Jones. Ultimately, however, the player chose to represent the AllBlacks, and we might yet see him start alongside forwards Sam Cane and Ardie Savea.
Loser: Liam Coltman
After a year of bad breaks, it was never going to be easy for Liam Coltman to stick with the All Blacks. Asafo Aumua has taken his place as third-choice hooker. If Coltman wants to attract the attention of Foster and be selected for the squad again in the future, he’s going to have to put in some work on his lineout throwing.