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Scott Barrett unveiled as new All Blacks captain

Alex Powell,
Publish Date
Mon, 24 Jun 2024, 5:32pm

Scott Barrett unveiled as new All Blacks captain

Alex Powell,
Publish Date
Mon, 24 Jun 2024, 5:32pm

Who will be the All Blacks captain?

Coach “Razor” Robertson has indicated he’s told the next All Blacks captain of his incoming status. Still, he won’t confirm the anointed leader until unveiling his first national squad following the Super Rugby final.

Earlier this year, Sam Cane announced he won’t lead the side in 2024 before walking away from international rugby at the end of the year to take up a three-year contract in Japan with Suntory Sungoliath.

Scott Barrett and Ardie Savea are the leading contenders to grasp the captaincy role after Cane announced he was stepping aside.

“There’s been conversations and discussions that have been had with players,” Robertson said. “That’s all I can say. It will be announced when we name the team.”

Who do the players want to be captain?

Former skipper Kieran Read believes Scott Barrett’s existing relationship with the coach could be the decisive factor in determining who will be named as the next All Blacks captain.

Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s D’Arcy Waldegrave, Read outlined that despite the excellence of Savea, Barrett should be considered the front-runner for the job.

“It’s a tough one, both have great attributes,” the former captain said. “Scooter’s [Barrett] done it for a while with the Crusaders and been pretty successful. Ardie, I think, in terms of his ability to inspire and get players to follow him is pretty impressive in the All Blacks jersey.

“There’s a couple of pretty awesome options... It’s a hard call, I think potentially Scott Barrett if I’m thinking of someone, because of where he’s sat. He’s led a lot of teams, and the relationship with Razor probably leans it to him. But Ardie would be fantastic, right? He’s an amazing player and a great leader in his own way.”

Asked about his own desire to lead his country, Barrett admits he’d be willing to take on the role, even if it’s far from his thoughts at the moment, after sitting out the end of the Crusaders’ season following another back niggle against the Queensland Reds in early May.

“I guess that’s something I’d be open to,” Barrett professed. “But my focus right now is to get back on the park, if I’m going to be honest. It’d be a huge honour to do that, for whoever is in that position, I guess.

“Those decisions are fully on Razor. We’ve had conversations over the past five or six months around the All Black[s] environment, and areas that are critical going forward. Ultimately, the decision sits with him.”

Aaron Smith and Dalton Papali’i are both backing Ardie Savea to assume the coveted role.

Who has been named in the England side?

England head coach Steve Borthwick has selected six uncapped players in his 36-man squad for the upcoming three-test tour of Japan and New Zealand.

The uncapped players include Fin Baxter from Harlequins, Gabriel Oghre from Bristol Bears, Joe Carpenter and Tom Roebuck from Sale Sharks, Luke Northmore from Harlequins and Ollie Sleightholme from Northampton Saints, who is the Premiership’s top scorer this season and the son of former England winger Jon Sleightholme.

The squad, which will be captained by Jamie George, consists of 20 forwards and 16 backs. England will first face Japan in Tokyo on June 22, followed by tests against New Zealand in Dunedin on July 6 and Auckland on July 13.

Forwards: Fin Baxter (Harlequins, uncapped) Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 112 caps) Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, 5 caps) Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins, 4 caps) Ben Curry (Sale Sharks, 5 caps) Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 50 caps) Theo Dan (Saracens, 12 caps) Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 17 caps) Ben Earl (Saracens, 30 caps) Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 30 caps) Jamie George (Saracens, 90 caps) captain Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 7 caps) Maro Itoje (Saracens, 81 caps) Joe Marler (Harlequins, 93 caps) George Martin (Leicester Tigers, 12 caps) Gabriel Oghre (Bristol Bears, uncapped) Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 5 caps) Ethan Roots (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps) Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 38 caps) Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 35 caps)

Backs: Joe Carpenter (Sale Sharks, uncapped) Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, 2 caps) Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter Chiefs, 3 caps) Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 8 caps) George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 9 caps) Ollie Lawrence (Bath Rugby, 24 caps) Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 15 caps) Luke Northmore (Harlequins, uncapped) Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 6 caps) Tom Roebuck (Sale Sharks, uncapped) Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 62 caps) Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints, uncapped) Fin Smith (Northampton Saints, 2 caps) Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 32 caps) Ben Spencer (Bath Rugby, 5 caps) Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 33 caps).

Can Sam Cane, Ardie Savea and Beauden Barrett play for the All Blacks this year?
The trio of Savea, Beauden Barrett and Cane all enjoyed a sabbatical from Super Rugby Pacific this season and have spent 2024 playing in Japan’s Rugby League One but are available for All Blacks selection.

What’s happening with All Blacks eligibility?

At the moment the status quo remains: to play for the All Blacks, you must play in New Zealand – except for unique cases like sabbaticals.

While South Africa edged the All Blacks to win the World Cup with only 15 of their 33-man squad playing domestically, New Zealand Rugby has been resistant to such a change in policy.

Robertson said when taking charge he wanted those in power to “keep an open mind” about a potential alteration but in March, Savea went even further.

“Times are changing. Things are moving fast,” Savea said. “What worked five, 10, 15 years ago maybe can’t work now. We’ve just got to be innovative and smart around what we’re doing.

“The country that’s proven that it works, that it helps, is South Africa. The majority of their team’s playing [offshore] and they come together and win the World Cup. I don’t think it’s going to change drastically, but I just think that something needs to evolve and grow.

“Maybe it’s the new coaching group and new management that’s coming in and bringing fresh ideas, that could be it.”

The All Blacks’ most-capped back, halfback Aaron Smith, has also advocated for a change in criteria that allows long-serving veterans to be selected from offshore.

All Blacks’ 2024 test schedule
Saturday July 6, 7.05pm – All Blacks v England, Forsyth Barr Stadium

Saturday July 13, 7.05pm – All Blacks v England, Eden Park

Saturday July 20, 2.30pm – All Blacks v Fiji, SnapDragon Stadium, San Diego

Saturday August 10, 7.05pm – All Blacks v Argentina (Rugby Championship), Sky Stadium, Wellington

Saturday August 17, 7.05pm – All Blacks v Argentina (Rugby Championship), Eden Park

August 31, TBC – All Blacks v South Africa (Rugby Championship), Johannesburg

September 7, TBC – All Blacks v South Africa (Rugby Championship), Cape Town

September 21, TBC – All Blacks v Australia (Rugby Championship), Sydney

September 28, 7.05pm – All Blacks v Australia (Rugby Championship), Sky Stadium

October 26, TBC – All Blacks v Japan, Yokohama

November 3, 4.10am – All Blacks v England, Twickenham

November 9, 9.10am – All Blacks v Ireland, Dublin

November 17, 9.10am – All Blacks v France, Paris

November 24, 9.10am – All Blacks v Italy, TBC

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