All Blacks call up uncapped Taranaki and Chiefs lock Josh Lord

The All Blacks have handed a surprise callup to Taranaki youngster Josh Lord for their tour of the USA and Europe, with Scott Barrett and Patrick Tuipulotu returning to New Zealand for family reasons.

Barrett and Tuipulotu have both secured MIQ spots and will return home shortly, leaving the All Blacks relatively light on experience at lock for the five remaining tests of the year, with Lord joining Tupou Vaa’i behind the experienced duo of Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick.

Josh Lord in action for Taranaki against Northland in the NPC.

Dave Rowland/Getty Images

Josh Lord in action for Taranaki against Northland in the NPC.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster acknowledged on Monday that Lord’s selection was partly made “with an eye on the future”, but also said returning loose forward Shannon Frizell would provide emergency cover at lock.

Frizell, Sam Cane, Whitelock and veteran hooker Dane Coles will all join up with the squad in Washington before the test against the United States on October 23 (local time), and the latter trio may get some game time in New Zealand beforehand – Covid permitting.

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“He’s a young player, he’s got a lot of promise and we were impressed with him whenever we’ve gone to see him at training at Super level,” Foster said of the 202cm, 20-year-old Chiefs lock Lord.

“We saw this as an opportunity to grow a young player for the future. He’s got the physical attributes that we think are right going forward, and this is a chance to get him on this tour and start working with him.”

Lord effectively leapfrogs the likes of more experienced Super Rugby locks such as Quinten Strange and Pari Pari Parkinson, but Foster said the door was still open for players at NPC level, and injuries could mean that more were needed in Europe.

All Blacks captain Sam Cane has been Bay of Plenty's well-qualified water boy in the NPC in recent weeks.

Michael Bradley/Getty Images

All Blacks captain Sam Cane has been Bay of Plenty’s well-qualified water boy in the NPC in recent weeks.

“You can always bring over another lock too,” said Foster, noting that moving players into Europe from New Zealand was easier than bringing players into Australia. “And we’ve got Shannon Frizell coming over who can cover.

“So, we’ve got a couple of options there, but we’ve done this before, with some younger players. And we think there’s a lot to gain out of introducing someone at a younger age that we think has the mental and physical attributes that we need. If he [Lord] settles in well then he’s got a great chance of getting some game time.”

Cane, Whitelock and Coles will significantly bolster the All Blacks’ pack after two tough tests against the Springboks.

Foster confirmed that Whitelock and Coles were in line to play for Canterbury and Wellington, respectively, in Friday night’s NPC game, while Cane could make a rare Heartland Championship appearance this weekend, with Bay of Plenty not in action.

“We’re looking around to see whether he will be might be available to play a game Heartland rugby,” Foster said. “I’m not sure on the latest on that, but he’s desperate to do that. And so we’ll see how the bureaucratic cogs go chugging through that one.”

Cane has not played since the end of March, when he suffered a pectoral injury against the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa, and Foster said that Ardie Savea would retain the All Blacks’ captaincy in the “short term” as Cane is reintroduced into the group.

“At the moment, we’re going go stay with the status quo,” Foster said. “…so, Ardie will carry on leading this team in the short term future but then once we get to Washington and Wales we’ll make some assessments about where the other guys are, then we’ll let people know.”

Sam Whitelock's lineout prowess will be needed on the end-of-season tour.

Brett Phibbs

Sam Whitelock’s lineout prowess will be needed on the end-of-season tour.

The All Blacks play Wales, Italy, Ireland and France on a demanding tour of Europe, and Ireland and France in particular will target the All Blacks’ set-piece.

That style of opponent poses a particular set of questions for the All Blacks pack, and the Springboks loss on Saturday begged the question if the All Blacks needed to consider the merits of set-piece dominant forwards outside the current squad.

Asked by Stuff if the likes of 198cm Blues No 6 Tom Robinson and Highlanders big man Parkinson – the leading Kiwi lineout ball winner in Super Rugby Trans Tasman – were part of the selection discussions this year, Foster said: “It all comes to mind.

“We’ve got very much a big set-piece focus in terms of our profiling. But there are different things you’ve got to consider.

“Our set piece has been going well. But it comes down to executing. It’s all about the lineout decision making.

“In my mind we made some decisions to get quite confrontational a bit more than we should have. We should have taken a bit more ball away from the lineout.

“So, it’s just about us making a few smarter decisions, because when we get the set piece on our terms I think we are doing really well in that space.

“But, yep, at the end of the day it does prove that you actually have players that are good for that.

“Largely, I think we’ve been doing OK, but we got a little bit of an idea of the level we need to get to.”


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Publish date : 2021-10-04 00:51:00

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