After the high-energy output during The Rugby Championship, many leading All Blacks have been afforded a release from the All Blacks camp. Free now to play in Mitre 10 Cup games this week, it will both allow these players to rejoin their province and to share the high standards that All Blacks are trained to. To share that experience with their provincial team mates.
Lima Sopoaga (pictured) and Damian McKenzie (below) are just a few of the players who will benefit from time with their provincial side. Sopoaga will join Southland for their match with Auckland. McKenzie joins Waikato to play Manawatu. Along with the other AB players all will gain both game time and to show the passion that playing for your province will do for a player.
Players will not find it easy
Mitre 10 Cup is not a huge step down–by no means. The select players permitted to leave the All Blacks camp and join their provincial sides will not find it ‘easy’. The intensity will be there. It will be as demanding as any Test match (literally). The opposition will be as committed and the management and coaching staff too ask for 110%.
For some, it will be ‘good to stretch their legs’ for an 80 minute contest. A few have only had opposed trainings and group sessions to express themselves; as they have not been selected for either Sydney or Wellington. So for these All Blacks, it will be a welcomed relief [to run out for a full match] before they rejoin the group next week.
ALL BLACKS RELEASED FOR MITRE 10 CUP
The following All Blacks squad members will be available for Mitre 10 Cup duties, if required this week:
Liam Coltman (Otago v Northland, Wednesday 31 August and Bay of Plenty v Otago, Sunday 4 September)
Lima Sopoaga and Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Charlie Faumuina and Rieko Ioane (Southland v Auckland, Friday 2 September)
Seta Tamanivalu (Tasman v Taranaki, Saturday 3 September)
James Parsons (Wellington v North Harbour, Saturday 3 September)
Luke Romano, Ryan Crotty and Codie Taylor (Northland v Canterbury, Saturday 3 September)
Damian McKenzie (Waikato v Manawatu, Sunday 4 September)
Meanwhile, Coltman, Tamanivalu and McKenzie will reassemble with the All Blacks squad next weekend as injury replacement players. Parsons and Ioane will be released to their Mitre 10 Cup teams.
The All Blacks squad reassembles on Sunday 4 September in Hamilton, to prepare for the Investec Rugby Championship test match against Argentina.
Excerpts taken from New Zealand Rugby media release, August 29
“Main photo credit”