The squads for the eagerly-awaited Steinlager North vs South match scheduled for Saturday 29 August have been named.
The squads have been selected by the All Blacks selectors Ian Foster, Grant Fox and John Plumtree. The All Blacks Assistant Coaches will coach the two sides, with Plumtree and Scott McLeod coaching the North and Brad Mooar and Greg Feek coaching the South.
Foster said the selectors were delighted to name the North and South squads today.
"This is a chance for these players to be part of something really special. It's a once-in-a-generation match for them and players who have previously taken part in these matches have talked about how unique and memorable it was. Now these two teams get to write their own history and stories around this match.
"The match will bring out the best in everyone and I'm sure there will be parochial rivalry in spades. It's a special game because it celebrates where the players made their provincial debuts and, for some, where they really took those first steps in their professional careers," Foster said.
"The players have worked really hard and played some outstanding rugby in Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa, and we're excited at the breadth of talent up and down the country. There's a huge amount of talent here and it will be a wonderful celebration of rugby for our fans."
Samuel Whitelock has been named as captain of the South team and Patrick Tuipulotu captain of the North.
"Sam and Patrick are two special players who've had outstanding seasons. They will lead their sides with their own flavour as captains and are both proven and experienced leaders," Foster said.
The North v South match is steeped in history, with the first match played in 1897 (won by the North 16-3) and was last played in Dunedin in 2012 (won by the South 32-24) The 2020 match will be the 81st match with the Northerners having won 50 matches and the South 27, with three draws.
The North and South squads (and the player's first province played for) are as follows:
Hookers: Asafo Aumua (Wellington), Ash Dixon (Hawke's Bay) and Kurt Eklund (Auckland).
Props: Alex Fidow (Wellington), Ayden Johnstone (Waikato), Angus Ta'avao (Auckland), Karl Tu'inukuafe (North Harbour) and Ofa Tuungafasi (Auckland).
Locks: Scott Scrafton (Auckland), Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland and captain) and Tupou Vaa'i (Taranaki).
Loose forwards: Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki), Akira Ioane (Auckland), Dalton Papalii (Auckland), Ardie Savea (Wellington) and Hoskins Sotutu (Auckland).
Halfbacks: TJ Perenara (Wellington), Aaron Smith (Manawatu) and Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki).
First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett (Taranaki).
Midfielders: Rieko Ioane (Auckland), Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato) and Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wellington).
Outside backs: Caleb Clarke (Auckland), Mitchell Hunt (Auckland), Damian McKenzie (Waikato), Sevu Reece (Waikato) and Mark Telea (North Harbour).
Hookers: Liam Coltman (Otago), Andrew Makalio (Tasman) and Codie Taylor (Canterbury).
Props: George Bower (Otago), Alex Hodgman (Canterbury), Nepo Laulala (Canterbury), Tyrel Lomax (Tasman) and Joe Moody (Canterbury).
Locks: Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury), Manaaki Selby-Rickit (Southland) and Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury and captain).
Loose forwards: Tom Christie (Canterbury), Shannon Frizell (Tasman), Dillon Hunt (Otago), Reed Prinsep (Canterbury) and Tom Sanders (Canterbury).
Halfbacks: Finlay Christie (Tasman), Mitchell Drummond (Canterbury) and Brad Weber (Otago).
First five-eighths: Josh Ioane (Otago) and Richie Mo'unga (Canterbury).
Midfielders: Braydon Ennor (Canterbury), Leicester Faingaanuku (Tasman), Jack Goodhue (Canterbury) and Sio Tomkinson (Otago)
Outside backs: Jordie Barrett (Canterbury), George Bridge (Canterbury) and Will Jordan (Tasman).
A number of players were unavailable for selection due to injury, including 2019 All Blacks Dane Coles, Scott Barrett, Sam Cane and Ngani Laumape.
The two squads will assemble in Wellington on Monday, but with the final venue for the match yet to be confirmed between Auckland's Eden Park and Wellington's SKY Stadium, Foster said the coaches and management weren't worried by the uncertainty.
"One thing about 2020 with Covid-19 is that you have to be nimble and agile and this week and next will be no different. We're adjusting and adapting, we'll look forward to getting to Wellington and getting stuck into our preparation," Foster said.
A final decision on the venue for the match will be made following the Government's review of Covid-19 levels on Friday.