All Blacks

Ireland series shapes as hardest start to an All Black season in ages

With a Covid-hit squad meaning he couldn't even be in camp, the All Blacks coach has raised pretty much every set of rugby eyebrows sky high in what is shaping up to be an extremely interesting test match.

Two debutants named in All Blacks 23 to play Ireland

Fainga'anuku was one of the outstanding finishers in Super Rugby this year and played a big part in the Crusaders run to the title.

Sowakula was also impressive for the Chiefs.

Scott Barrett wears the number 6 jersey with captain Sam Cane at 7 and Ardie Savea at the back of the scrum.

Fainga'anuku gets his first start in the number 11 jersey with fellow Crusader Sevu Reece on the right wing.

After getting called up as cover due to Covid affecting players, Braydon Ennor comes into the 23.

Covid strikes All Blacks again with Will Jordan out of Ireland test

Head coach Ian Foster, assistant coaches John Plumtree and midfielders David Havili and Jack Goodhue are already isolating after contracting the virus.

First-five Richie Mo'unga missed Tuesday's training with a stomach bug, but has tested negative for Covid.

Former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has been called in to help the All Blacks prepare for Saturday's test at a sold out Eden Park.

The quartet are isolating and it's understood they won't re-join the team before Saturday's test at a sold out Eden Park.

Cane: All Blacks senior players, assistant coaches stepping up

The home team were dealt more disruption on Tuesday ahead of the sold out game at Eden Park.

Star outside back Will Jordan became the latest to test positive for the virus, going into isolation alongside midfielders David Havili and Jack Goodhue, plus head coach Ian Foster and assistants John Plumtree and Scott McLeod.

Hardly ideal going into your first test of the year, against a very good team.

But Cane insisted the squad was rolling with the punches.

All Blacks send SOS to former Ireland coach

Schmidt coached the Irish for six years from 2013 and his reign included Ireland's first two wins over the All Blacks.

"Joe will come in for Tuesday and Thursday's training this week, and we're really grateful to have his help," Foster said in a statement.

"We've planned for this kind of disruption and we've got back-up plans and people on standby. Joe was one of those people we could call on.

"I've got every confidence in our coaching group and in our senior leaders who are all stepping up in what's a massive test for us."

All Blacks hit by Covid

The All Blacks head coach Ian Foster, assistant coach John Plumtree and midfielders David Havili and Jack Goodhue, both from the Crusaders, have also tested positive.

Foster and Plumtree are isolating at their homes while Havili and Goodhue are not with the team in Auckland

Foster said he's confident in the team's ability to carry on preparing for the first test, full steam ahead.

"We've had a plan for this happening, and it's a great opportunity for the wider coaching group and the senior players, who will be highly motivated to step up."

All Blacks playmaker Damian McKenzie back with NZ Rugby

The 27-year-old has recommitted to the All Blacks, Chiefs and Waikato having just returned home after a season playing in Japan.

McKenzie, who wasn't eligible for the All Blacks squad named earlier this week, was excited about the prospect of playing on home soil again.

"I really enjoyed my time in Japan, but it's great to be home among family and friends and I can't wait to get back on the field and reconnect with team-mates and coaches in New Zealand," the 40-test playmaker said.

Six new faces in first All Blacks squad of 2022

The squad will play Ireland in a three-test series in New Zealand next month.

Sam Cane retains the captaincy of the side.

Rugby league convert Roger Tuivasa-Sheck is named for the first time along with fellow backs Folau Fakatava, Stephen Perofeta and Leicester Fainga'anuku

In the forwards Aidan Ross and Pita Gus Sowakula are the newcomers.

Halfback Fakatava comes into the squad as the 78-game veteran TJ Perenara misses out.

Aaron Smith and Finlay Christie are the other halfbacks selected.


Major blow for All Blacks before season even kicks off

Blackadder suffered the injury in the Crusaders Super Rugby Pacific quarterfinal win over the Queensland Reds last Friday.

Scans show Blackadder, who has played nine tests, now needs surgery and the Crusaders have confirmed he won't return to the field until next year meaning he will miss the entire All Black season.

"We really feel for Ethan, who has been in incredible form and is such a hardworking and well-respected member of this team," said Crusaders coach Scott Robertson.

All Black legend Keven Mealamu serious about boxing title aspirations

Two-time Rugby World Cup-winner Keven Mealamu was confirmed on Wednesday as the headline act for the return of the Fight for Life charity event next month.

For 13 years, Mealamu helped the All Blacks deliver knockout punch after knockout punch.

Now, after almost seven years in rugby retirement, the 43-year-old former hooker would be delivering punches for real as he stepped into the realm of professional boxing.

A decision he said was easier than some might think.

"When the opportunity arose, I had butterflies and excitement and nervousness at the same time.