Rugby lovers around the world were treated to a fantastic spectacle yesterday which manifested itself as the traditional North vs South derby in New Zealand. The teams were picked based on where players made their first-class debuts which, fortuitously, made for a very even contest. Ian Foster and co. picked the new All Black squad for the Rugby Championship shortly after the game’s stunning conclusion, which saw the South steal it from the North in the dying minutes. We take a look at those players within the squad who are, as yet, uncapped and hungry to don the coveted black jersey for the first time.
Although he didn’t feature in yesterday’s game, the prop has proved himself to be a valuable asset in the Blues team with power in the set-piece and ample mobility around the pitch.
With the second-row being a hotly contested area at present, the youngster has been nothing but impressive for the Crusaders of late. With 32 appearances for the franchise, 7 New Zealand U20 caps under the belt and a fine work-rate, Strange is swiftly closing in on an All Black cap.
Another lock vying for All Black honours, Vaa’i is a great physical presence on the field. At just 20 years of age, he already exhibits quality leadership and his skill and work-rate are indicative of a bright future.
Yet another young lock with huge potential. It seems only a matter of time before Grace takes the field for the All Blacks. A solid lineout option and a tireless worker, 2020 could very well be the year.
One of the most talked-about young talents in New Zealand at the moment. Kieran Reed’s absence has left a rather large void but the capabilities of Sotutu have many people excited. Amply skilled in set-piece, and broken play, Sotutu is a complete package at number 8.
Son of Eroni, Caleb Clarke has had a fantastic start to his professional career and is destined for higher honours. The way in which he ignited the game yesterday off the kick-off – immediately slicing through the opposition defence – shows his character on the field. Big, fast and skilful, he is expected to pull the black jersey on before the end of the year.
A prodigious talent, Jordan proved too much to handle for defences this year, scoring try after try and racking up hundreds of running metres. His prowess on attack make him a shoe-in for the All Blacks in the near future.
In the mould of the modern hooker, Aumua has been a fantastic asset for the Hurricanes with his tough and energetic style and can be utilised to good effect in the national side. With competition stiff in this area with the likes of Dane Coles and Cody Taylor also in the picture, Aumua may have some time to wait, but his chance is no doubt on the horizon.
Comfortable at either flank or number 8, it is strange to think that Ioane, with all his talent, has yet to make his test debut. A great link between the forwards and backs, his presence on the field never goes unnoticed and one feels he will have as much to offer in the international arena as he does domestically.