One Step Closer to RWC2019 – All Blacks foundation group announced

All Blacks foundation group announced
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 28: Waisake Naholo and Damian McKenzie (L-R) look on during a New Zealand All Blacks gym session at the Apollo Projects Centre high performance training facility on May 28, 2018 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

As if the ultimate goal was untold, then an announcement from Steve Hansen and his selection panel has brought the focus in line. Taking one step closer to the Rugby World Cup 2019, the All Blacks foundation group was named.

41 names to be precise, with the news making rugby fans ears prick-up – knowing that any group is going to come with some argument over positions, form and the question of “who might be the Bolter!”

If those questions were not already asked, then after this list was released, Steve Hansen will now be required to qualify who, which [position], and why.

One Step Closer to RWC2019 – All Blacks foundation group announced

The men listed below will hold improved confidence over their futures. That they are one step closer to their 2019 dreams. And that is quantifiable now, as the days count down to September.

Hansen, Grant Fox, and Ian Foster are the first International coaching group to publicly announce a ‘squad’ of 41 players, intended to prepare for RWC2019. They might get a trump over others, yet it is still an interruption to Super Rugby; so they must tread carefully.

No franchise will want injuries affecting their players. So foundation meetings are more talk, than training. More in the classroom, and much less on the training grounds [from the experience of 2018]. Administration, understanding of programmes and familiarity with the planning that goes on, building towards any major tournament.

Injury no barrier to All Blacks inclusion

At this point in time, not every one of the 41 players are in fact ‘fit and able’. In that, you would call them recovering from injury or, having just been diagnosed. A tough place for any professional sports person – so the 41 All Blacks foundation group members include those from 2018 who would be in contention (if they were fully fit).

So Aaron Smith who could be seen as ‘just about to’ reach game fitness, joins the All Blacks foundation group on Monday. That is as it will not be a stretch of his recovery program. Players like him, on the verge of recovering from injury, will not be required to push hard in fitness sessions – because the All Blacks strength and conditioning coach  Nic Gill already has all the information on their recovery status.

These gatherings are not used to gain ‘new information’. The 41 players are included in exisiting programmes – even uncapped Akira Ioane has one. They all have a history with the All Blacks; have systems in place, meet conditioning measures and reach the criteria.

So the All Blacks foundation group is not a new squad. Everyone has either a test cap, been a member of the ‘extended squad’ [Akira Ioane included] or have experience within the New Zealand Rugby system.

So while the 41 names might create a conversation – one which LWOR encourage on Facebook or Twitter – they are not unfamiliar. Even while Steve Hansen is ‘looking out’ for the form players of 2019, plans have been in place for some time. It would take a huge ‘drop’ in form, for many players to be replaced. Loyalty is a value highly regarded, and reputation has influenced this All Blacks foundation group’s announcement.

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