The All Blacks squad was named at The Beehive – New Zealand’s parliament building in Wellington – on Sunday night, and contained a handful of surprise inclusions and several more unlucky omissions.
Lima Sopoaga, who steered the Highlanders to Super XV glory and enjoyed a sparkling Test debut against South Africa at Ellis Park, lost out to the versatility and experience of Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade in the flyhalf mix behind Dan Carter.
I have no regrets I gave it my best crack all year and that’s all I can ask. Go hard brothers bring it home. #AllblackEverything
— Lima Sopoaga (@LimaSopoaga) August 30, 2015
Winger/fullback Charles Piutau can be considered equally unfortunate after starring in his Test outings this season, including a man-of-the-match performance against the Springboks. The Blues gun was edged out by boom international rookies Nehe Milner-Skudder and Waisake Naholo, the latter making a miracle comeback after suffering a leg fracture on Test debut just six weeks ago.
congrats to all the brothers that made it @AllBlacks
— Charles Piutau (@CPiutau) August 30, 2015
Unlike the Wallabies, coach Steve Hansen and the New Zealand selectors have opted to take three specialist halfbacks and hookers. Tawera Kerr-Barlow nabbed the third halfback spot despite an injury-plagued season that saw him miss the Chiefs entire Super Rugby campaign, while Crusaders tyro Codie Taylor was something of a bolter as the third-choice hooker.
Test veterans Israel Dagg and Cory Jane were ultimately unable to overcome injury-ravaged Super Rugby seasons, despite impressive recent returns to ITM Cup action.