The big day has arrived.
There’s nothing quite like the tension, nerves, excitement and trepidation that comes with the naming of the first All Blacks squad of the year.
For some, there will be tears of happiness at getting that step closer to a boyhood dream of wearing the black jersey.
For others there will be tears of disappointment at being cut from the group, or not quite being able to crack it for a first time.
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Here’s all you need to know ahead of the big announcement:
What’s being announced?
All Blacks coach Ian Foster’s 36-man squad for next month’s three tests against Ireland.
It’s a hotly-anticipated series, with the Irish having beaten New Zealand last November in Dublin, making it three losses in the last five matchups against them for the men in black.
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When’s this happening?
Monday June 13, 12pm.
Yes, it’s before Saturday’s Super Rugby final between the Blues and Crusaders, but Foster is keen to get to work as soon as possible with the players not involved in that game.
Fale o Samoa, Māngere, Auckland.
These squad announcements have been taken around various venues in recent years. With the majority of players in last year’s squad identifying as Māori or Pasifika, the All Blacks wanted to do something which recognised how special how that culture is to their players and community.
Members of the community, school kids and former All Blacks have been invited along to show what the legacy of the jersey means and how important family and culture is.
How can I tune in?
Right on this very Stuff page you’re on. From 11am we’ll kick off our live blog, with a live stream of the announcement to then start at 11.45am.
You can also watch via the All Blacks’ Facebook page or YouTube channel.
Who is unavailable for selection?
Halfback Aaron Smith (groin) and openside flanker Dalton Papalii (appendix removal) are on the mend after being ruled out of the Blues-Highlanders Super Rugby Pacific quarterfinal, and are still expected to be named in the squad.
These others wore the silver fern last year but won’t be named on Monday:
Loosehead prop Joe Moody (injured [knee] – out for the year)
Lock Patrick Tuipulotu (ineligible – unlike Brodie Retallick and Beauden Barrett last year, the former Blues captain hasn’t been deemed available for selection immediately on return from Japan, due to having lesser international experience than that duo, and will have to play NPC first before representing the ABs again)
Loose forward Ethan Blackadder (injured [shoulder] – out for the year)
First five-eighth/fullback Damian McKenzie (ineligible – was off contract with NZR last year, so, in the same situation as TJ Perenara in 2021, has to play NPC first before playing for a national side)
Midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown (injured [shoulder] – approximate October return)
What are the main areas of contention in the squad?
Foster has gone on record to say loosehead prop (with Moody injured) and halfback (with Folau Fakatava now eligible) were the two spots causing the most discussion amongst the selectors.
The loose forwards mix will be intriguing, with the thinking potentially now skewed by the injury to Blackadder and semi setback to Papalii.
And with top midfielder Lienert-Brown absent, the No 12 jersey is up for grabs, with Foster having said he’s “not excited” about moving Jordie Barrett there from fullback.
Is there a chance of a bolter or two, just over a year out from the World Cup?
“I don’t think there will be a name pops up way outside the square,” Foster has said. “But is there potential for some new All Blacks? The answer is yes.”
What’s Ireland’s schedule here look like?
There’s a touch of the old-school about it, thanks to two extra fixtures against the Māori All Blacks, which will see an extended squad brought south.
Wednesday, June 29, 7.05pm: Māori All Blacks v Ireland, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Saturday, July 2, 7.05pm: All Blacks v Ireland, Eden Park, Auckland
Saturday July 9, 7.05pm: All Blacks v Ireland, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Tuesday, July 12, 7.05pm: Māori All Blacks v Ireland, Sky Stadium, Wellington
Saturday July 16, 7.05pm: All Blacks v Ireland, Sky Stadium, Wellington
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