Plumtree drops big All Blacks selection hints for buzzing USA clash

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The All Blacks’ preparation to face the USA Eagles this weekend has, in some ways, been unlike any other – and that plays into the selection for Saturday’s clash.

The All Blacks are halfway through an epic 10-game tour, having started proceedings in Australia in early August, and still have major games to come against Ireland and France.

The game against the United States is shaping up to be the easiest of the games to come, with the Eagles ranked 17th in the world and most recently killed by Uruguay in the World Cup qualifiers. As such, New Zealand are expected to deploy a very different squad from the squad that succumbed to the Springboks in the last Rugby Championship game.

Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons panel review all of rugby’s developments from the past week.

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Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons panel review all of rugby’s developments from the past week.

In fact, it wouldn’t be a major surprise if there was a full rotation of the starting XV.

Fringe players could enter the lineup, having been forced to hold tackle bags for much of the tour so far, while returning players like Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane and Dane Coles will all be race-ready. .

“Certainly for this weekend there will be a few boys who haven’t had football in a little while who have an opportunity,” assistant coach John Plumtree said on Wednesday.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to use players throughout the squad and we have some pretty important games coming up in the UK so it’s very important that we use some of the squad members. who haven’t played much football. “

A small group of players – likely the men who have taken on the heaviest workloads, such as Brodie Retallick, Ardie Savea and Rieko Ioane – will travel to the UK ahead of this weekend’s game, as the state Health is relatively good, although there is one man who has just joined the team and who should be missing out on the action as well.

“The only player who is not available is Shannon Frizell, who is still recovering from a blow he received with the [Tasman] a few weeks ago, but other than that everyone is good, ”confirmed Plumtree.

With Frizell a possible second row cover for the side, which only includes four locks, his absence coupled with Retallick’s likely relocation to England almost guarantees that 21-year-old lock Josh Lord will make his debut for the All Blacks this weekend. end.

Lord isn’t the only player buzzing ahead of the action though, with Plumtree pointing out the energy that builds in the squad ahead of the game, despite a tough start to the week.

“Obviously the long journey, the jet lag we have to deal with at the start of this week and obviously Sean [Wainui]also happening… So there were some obstacles, ”Plumtree said. “But I expect that we will refresh ourselves tomorrow with a day off, have a few things planned for the team, some relaxation and a little opportunity for the boys to catch their breath tomorrow, and then on Thursday we We’re really looking to hang in there and that will give us a few days to really get a feel and the space we need to prepare the All Blacks for a test match.

“We heard that there were a lot of people for the weekend. There will be a huge buzz around watching this game. I think this is the All Blacks’ first time in Washington so I think there will be a big okay buzz. We don’t really feel it because we’re not outside [due to Covid protocols] but we are certainly aware of it.

“I hope we can take a look at [FedExField] Friday but otherwise it will be a nice surprise when we arrive [for the match]. This team loves to play in front of big crowds and the fact that everyone is excited to see us play and watch us play against the Eagles will only add to that excitement as well.

“We have a great team of players and there will be a few players who maybe haven’t played for a while and that will add to the excitement for these individuals going out to the park.”

Saturday’s game will start at 3:30 p.m. EDT (8:30 a.m. NZT Sunday morning).

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