All Blacks team named, as RWC rest days apply new pressures

All Blacks team named, as RWC rest days apply new pressures

The All Blacks team to play Canada has been named, with 16 players ready to make their World Cup debut, in only the defending champions second match. 10 days after #NZLvRSA, it appears that RWC rest days has applied unfamiliar pressure on the All Blacks with assistant coach Ian Foster addressing the pressures of the 2019 tournament.

In listing the 23 players to face Canada, the All Blacks have opted for rotation, alongside continuing the combination of Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett. That decision was contrary to the perceived call to rest either player, yet with every squad member – apart from Brodie Retallick – now being selected, the coaching staff are in the process of a plan to ‘cover all bases’ during the Pool stages.

“With two games four days apart, it’s obvious that we need to use our whole squad. Whilst there’s a huge amount of energy and excitement amongst the whole team about what lies ahead, this week there has been a real focus on ourselves and our own standards.’

The All Blacks have made 11 changes to their starting lineup. Including the likes of Rieko Ioane and Jack Goodhue, the pack has also been altered. Atu Moli and Liam Coltman fronting up against Canada.

The New Zealand matchday 23 is as follows:

15. Beauden Barrett, 14. Jordie Barrett, 13. Jack Goodhue, 12. Sonny Bill Williams, 11. Rieko Ioane, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 9. TJ Perenara, 8. Kieran Read (c), 7. Matt Todd, 6. Shannon Frizell, 5. Scott Barrett, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu, 3. Angus Ta’avao, 2. Liam Coltman, 1. Atu Moli.
Reserves:16. Codie Taylor, 17. Ofa Tuungafasi, 18. Nepo Laulala, 19. Sam Whitelock, 20. Ardie Savea, 21. Brad Weber, 22. Ryan Crotty, 23. Ben Smith

This match will also see the first time a set of three brothers play for the All Blacks at a Rugby World Cup. Beauden Barrett plays his 80th test, alongside brothers Jordie and Scott.

New Zealand v Canada – Oita Stadium, Wednesday, October 2

While bringing in players that were yet to see game time, the selectors may have placed themselves in a peculiar position. With senior players requiring a break, the timing of that will need to be managed – while respecting the opposition, Ian Foster spoke of key objectives the team wanted to meet.

“You’ve got to respect every opposition you play. I’m sure if you talk to the Canadians it’s a massive game for them as well. I’m pretty sure they’ll be pretty excited about having a crack at us.”

The assertion is that such a long wait in between the opening fixture and this #NZLvCAN match has been an advantage to the current World Champions. Yet, bookended by a short turnaround till their follow-up clash, only three days break has applied new pressures to the All Blacks.

So used to six or seven-day windows between Tests, this is a new experience for the All Blacks management. According to assistant coach Ian Foster is ‘a double-edged sword’. Good preparation time has rewarded the group in repairing any niggles and focusing on one game at a time.

Head coach Steve Hansen spoke of this when saying, “We’ve been working hard. We know we have to keep growing our game. We’ve always been demanding of ourselves when it comes to continued improvement, and that will never change.  By doing so, it allows us to have the right attitude, intent and execution.”

After playing South Africa on the second day of the tournament, the All Blacks exited the hustle-and-bustle of Tokyo, to Oita. This has meant their time away from the main center of the 2019 RWC activities, has seen the city of Beppu embrace the touring group. A Siter City to Rotorua, the thermal resort will have been a comfortable retreat – until now.

All Blacks campaign must restart after RWC rest days

While not openly complaining about the draw and match timings, the sense is that the long break will now need to be restarted with intent. Not so much poor planning, but more so that the ‘luck of the draw’ has afforded New Zealand a rare experience.

This means the captains run on Tuesday will see a second run on Saturday; just four days later. Rare for those who are new to the World Cup tournament. Not so for Kieran Read. He, alongside Sam Whitelock and Sonny Bill Williams are appearing in their third tournaments. That is where the value of having experience within the group can help quell the nerves of some.

Rieko Ioane
Rieko Ioane of the All Blacks runs through drills during a New Zealand training session at Jissoji Tamokuteki Ground on September 28, 2019 in Beppu, Oita, Japan. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

On the other hand, raw enthusiasm from Jordie Barrett (see main photo), Ardie Savea, and Atu Moli will be an injection of energy that every team requires. To ensure that fresh eyes give the squad balance. Ian Foster knows that offering starting roles to both new and older players. Rotation, but with an eye on the goals ahead.

He emphasized they were viewed as important stepping stones as the team builds towards the more challenging contests ahead. “We’ve got a pretty clear plan for the two games and, like always, we’ve got to look at that first game and see how we shape up afterward to see what changes we have to make.”

Getting their RWC campaign back on track will involve two games within four days of one another. A unique challenge, and even with a mild amount of complaint, the All Blacks will be happy to ‘roll up their sleeves’. To get the job done, and be ready for Italy, on October 12.

By then, the rust will have been shaken off each of the squad members. the hope is that Brodie Retallick will take a part in that final pool game, and then the team can – and only then – look at the next stage. On Wednesday, Canada requires full focus. RWC rest days aside, the team must focus, and be prepared to show they have used their time well.


“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images