New Zealand coach Ian Foster. Picture: ACTION IMAGES/REUTERS/PETER CZIBORRA
New Zealand coach Ian Foster. Picture: ACTION IMAGES/REUTERS/PETER CZIBORRA

Wellington — New All Blacks coach Ian Foster has started his rebuild for the 2023 Rugby World Cup with seven new faces in his first squad though the team has yet to have any matches confirmed for 2020.

Loose forwards Hoskins Sotutu and Cullen Grace, locks Quinten Strange and Tupou Vaa’i, prop Alex Hodgman and outside backs Caleb Clarke and Will Jordan were named on Sunday in the squad.

Prop Karl Tu’inukuafe and outside back Damian McKenzie have also earned recalls after battling with injury in 2019, while uncapped loose forward Akira Ioane and hooker Asafo Aumua have also forced their way back into the squad.

Both Ioane and Aumua have played non-Test matches. Flyhalf Josh Ioane, who made his Test debut off the bench in 2019, was not included with McKenzie expected to cover the position if Beauden Barrett or Richie Mo’unga get injured, All Blacks selector Grant Fox said.

The All Blacks are tentatively scheduled to play Australia in Test matches in October and possibly the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship, also involving SA and Argentina, in a November-December window.

A resurgence of the novel coronavirus in both Australia and New Zealand and cases of Covid-19 in the Pumas squad, however, have put the matches under a shadow.

All Blacks squad

Backs: Damian McKenzie, Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, George Bridge, Will Jordan, Caleb Clarke, Braydon Ennor, Rieko Ioane, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, TJ Perenara, Brad Weber, Aaron Smith. Forwards: Hoskins Sotutu, Akira Ioane, Ardie Savea, Sam Cane (capt), Shannon Frizell, Dalton Papalii, Cullen Grace, Sam Whitelock, Patrick Tuipulotu, Quinten Strange, Tupou Vaa’i, Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tuungafasi, Joe Moody, Alex Hodgman, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Tyrel Lomax, Codie Taylor, Dane Coles, Asafo Aumua.

Reuters

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