The squads for New Zealand’s eagerly-awaited North v South game scheduled for Saturday, August 29 have been named, with stars aplenty on show.
All Blacks selectors Ian Foster, Grant Fox and John Plumtree picked the groups, with Plumtree and Scott McLeod coaching the North and Brad Mooar and Greg Feek coaching the South.
Foster revealed the selectors were delighted to name the squads and admitted there is real excitement over the upcoming fixture.
“This is a chance for these players to be part of something really special,” he said. “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.”
He added: “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 is 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 have had outstanding seasons. They will lead their sides with their own flavour as captains and are both proven and experienced leaders,” Foster said.
A number of players were unavailable for selection due to injury, including 2019 All Blacks Dane Coles, Scott Barrett, Sam Cane and Ngani Laumape.
Forwards: Asafo Aumua (Wellington), Ash Dixon (Hawke’s Bay), Kurt Eklund (Auckland), Alex Fidow (Wellington), Ayden Johnstone (Waikato), Angus Ta’avao (Auckland), Karl Tu’inukuafe (North Harbour), Ofa Tuungafasi (Auckland), Scott Scrafton (Auckland), Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland, captain), Tupou Vaa’i (Taranaki), Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki), Akira Ioane (Auckland), Dalton Papalii (Auckland), Ardie Savea (Wellington), Hoskins Sotutu (Auckland)
Backs: TJ Perenara (Wellington), Aaron Smith (Manawatu), Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki), Beauden Barrett (Taranaki), Rieko Ioane (Auckland), Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato), Peter Umaga-Jensen (Wellington), Caleb Clarke (Auckland), Mitchell Hunt (Auckland), Damian McKenzie (Waikato), Sevu Reece (Waikato), Mark Telea (North Harbour)
Forwards: Liam Coltman (Otago), Andrew Makalio (Tasman), Codie Taylor (Canterbury), George Bower (Otago), Alex Hodgman (Canterbury), Nepo Laulala (Canterbury), Tyrel Lomax (Tasman), Joe Moody (Canterbury), Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury), Manaaki Selby-Rickit (Southland), Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury, captain), Tom Christie (Canterbury), Shannon Frizell (Tasman), Dillon Hunt (Otago), Reed Prinsep (Canterbury), Tom Sanders (Canterbury)
Backs: Finlay Christie (Tasman), Mitchell Drummond (Canterbury), Brad Weber (Otago), Josh Ioane (Otago), Richie Mo’unga (Canterbury), Braydon Ennor (Canterbury), Leicester Faingaanuku (Tasman), Jack Goodhue (Canterbury), Sio Tomkinson (Otago), Jordie Barrett (Canterbury), George Bridge (Canterbury), Will Jordan (Tasman)