Ireland v New Zealand: New Zealand player profiles

A look at Steve Hansen’s All Blacks ahead of Saturday night’s Aviva Stadium showdown

All Blacks loosehead Karl Tu’inukuafe. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

All Blacks loosehead Karl Tu’inukuafe. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

 

15 Damian McKenzie

Club: Chiefs
Age: 23
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 83kg (13st 1lb)
Caps: 21

A standout performer at Twickenham, McKenzie’s low-centre of gravity and ability to step off either foot means tackling him is like trying to catch a ferret. A serious danger at 15 or first receiver.

14 Ben Smith

Club: Highlanders
Age: 31
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 94kg (14st 11lbs)
Caps: 75

Refreshed this year after taking a sabbatical, All Blacks pragmatism means he has been operating on the wing as well as fullback. Smith possesses supreme vision and graceful, devastating running.

13 Jack Goodhue

Club: Crusaders
Age: 23
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 98kg (15st 6lbs)
Caps: 6

Goodhue had a quiet afternoon at Twickenham but he is expected to wear the All Blacks 13 jersey for a generation, and after six caps has already split the Crotty-Sonny Bill axis.

12 Ryan Crotty

Club: Crusaders
Age: 30
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 96kg (15st 2lbs)
Caps: 43

The man who broke Irish hearts in 2013 returns to the starting XV in the absence of Sonny Bill. An intelligent footballer, his introduction against England helped turned the tide in the All Blacks favour.

Rieko Ioane has 22 tries in 22 All Blacks appearances. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty
Rieko Ioane has 22 tries in 22 All Blacks appearances. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty

11 Rieko Ioane

Club: Blues
Age: 21
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 102kg (16st 1lb)
Caps: 22

A stunning record of 22 tries in 22 Test matches tells you everything you need to know about Ioane’s predatory instincts on the left wing. Supremely physical to boot, Keith Earls will have his hands full.

10 Beauden Barrett

Club: Hurricanes
Age: 27
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 91kg (14st, 5lbs)
Caps: 71

The best outhalf in the world? His vision, running game and passing ability are unparalleled - but a lack of accuracy from the tee could cost the All Blacks, the drawn Lions series a case in point.

All Blacks outhalf Beauden Barrett. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
All Blacks outhalf Beauden Barrett. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

9 Aaron Smith

Club: Highlanders
Age: 29
Height: 5’7”
Weight: 83kg (13st 1lb)
Caps: 81

The world’s second best nine is quicksilver around the fringes with lightning distribution. If his box kicking improves from Twickenham he can really put Ireland under pressure.

1 Karl Tu’inukuafe

Club: Blues
Age: 25
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 135kg (21st 4lbs)
Caps: 11

Tu’inukuafe’s rise this year has been stunning, having started 2018 without a Super Rugby contract. A destructive scrummager, the former security guard is also deceptively mobile around the park.

2 Codie Taylor

Club: Crusaders
Age: 27
Height: 6’
Weight: 111kg (17st, 7lbs)
Caps: 40

A very physical and mobile hooker, he has retained his place despite the return of Dane Coles. Ireland will look to attack the All Blacks lineout, so his throwing must be clean.

3 Owen Franks

Club: Crusaders
Age: 30
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 118kg (18st, 8lbs)
Caps: 105

The scrum will be key at the Aviva and Franks is renowned for his set piece prowess. He is equally brilliant around the field, and a big tackler - a frontrow battle for the ages awaits.

4 Brodie Retallick

Club: Chiefs
Age: 27
Height: 6’8”
Weight: 121kg (19st 1lb)
Caps: 72

Retallick delivered a freakish display against England, destroying the hosts lineout - particularly in the second half. A similar performance at the set-piece on Saturday night could wreck Irish dreams.

Brodie Retallisck dominated the English lineout at Twickenham. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty
Brodie Retallisck dominated the English lineout at Twickenham. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty

5 Sam Whitelock

Club: Crusaders
Age: 30
Height: 6’8”
Weight: 120kg (18st 13lbs)
Caps: 107

Played second fiddle to Retallick at Twickenham but was no less impressive. He has a huge engine, the handling skills of a back and is a serious threat from set-pieces. Absence in Chicago was crucial.

6 Liam Squire

Club: Highlanders
Age: 27
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 113kg (17st 11lbs)
Caps: 22

A backrow monster, Squire is dynamic around the park and a slick lineout operator. He had a quiet game against England, but will carry hard and often on Saturday night.

7 Ardie Savea

Club: Hurricanes
Age: 25
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 100kg (15st 10lbs)
Caps: 33

Savea enjoyed a fine Rugby Championship and takes the number seven jersey in the absence of Sam Cane. He carried with aplomb at Twickenham, consistently getting over the gainline.

Kieran Read lifts the Hillary Shield after New Zealand’s win over England. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty
Kieran Read lifts the Hillary Shield after New Zealand’s win over England. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty

8 Kieran Read (capt)

Club: Crusaders
Age: 33
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 111kg (17st 7lbs)
Caps: 116

The All Blacks’ talismanic captain is brilliant across the park and runs a dominant lineout. Leadership and decision making will be pivotal on a night where scoreboard accumulation is needed.

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