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Dagg versus Donald: Who should make Ian Foster’s 23 to beat the Boks?


Three days out from the All Blacks’ opening Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks, former internationals Israel Dagg and Stephen Donald have selected their preferred 23-man squads.

Head coach Ian Foster brought 36 players with additional travelling reserves to South Africa and is expected to name his side for Saturday night’s match (Sunday morning NZST) within the next 24 hours.

While the All Blacks are expected to bounce back from their middling series against Ireland across June and July, the Springboks will back themselves with their home advantage and notoriously dominant pack.

To counter this, both Dagg and Donald have named their “biggest” forward packs but have differing opinions around who should make up the backline.

“For me, I wanted tough, big (players),” Donald said on SENZ The Run Home.

“(Also) guys who are up for a scrap because it’s going to be a full house there … I’ve picked the biggest, nastiest pack I think we can put out.

“We can go bigger (than Ardie) Savea and (Sam) Cane, obviously they’re not the biggest men, but in a battle in South Africa, right now they are the two I want out there.

“My backline … (there were) probably a few eyebrows raised about Leicester (Fainga’anuku) on one wing knowing that a bombardment of bombs are coming.

“(There will) probably be a few eyebrows raised around Quinn Tupaea at 12 but for me, you need to be able to smash the gain line and the more options we’ve got to get over that gain line the better because if we can’t win (that) against the Boks we are done for.”

Dagg also expressed the side’s need for big, dominant forwards, but believes the “biggest debate” will come with the selection of the All Blacks’ No.10.

First-five and All Blacks’ centurion Beauden Barrett held the starting position across the Irish series but Dagg believes it may be time to give Crusaders’ playmaker Richie Mo’unga a run.

“I think the biggest debate is whether we continue with Beaudy, and don’t get me wrong Beaudy’s still a classy player, or do we flip the switch and give Richie Mo’unga a go,” Dagg questioned on SENZ Breakfast.

“I think it might be time (to change the five-eighth position) just to give a variation, knowing what Beaudy can bring off the bench.

“I just think the difference for Richie is his ability to make the defence second guess whether they can come up.

“When you’ve got a 10 that can attack the line and put teams under pressure, you get a bit weary of coming off the line or trying to leave your second defender outside.

“So you’re trying to create that little door for them to create a half-gap and make that half break which Richie is very good (at).”

With these explanations in mind, check out both former players’ 23-man squads for the opening Rugby Championship Test.

Israel Dagg’s All Blacks 23:

  1. George Bower
  2. Codie Taylor
  3. Angus Ta’avao
  4. Scott Barrett
  5. Sam Whitelock
  6. Akira Ioane
  7. Sam Cane
  8. Ardie Savea
  9. Aaron Smith
  10. Richie Mo’unga
  11. Caleb Clarke
  12. David Havili
  13. Rieko Ioane
  14. Will Jordan
  15. Jordie Barrett
  16. Dane Coles
  17. Ethan de Groot
  18. Nepo Laulala
  19. Tupou Vai’i
  20. Dalton Papalii
  21. Finlay Christie
  22. Beauden Barrett
  23. Sevu Reece

Stephen Donald’s All Blacks 23:

  1. Aidan Ross
  2. Dane Coles
  3. Angus Ta’avao
  4. Sam Whitelock
  5. Patrick Tuipulotu
  6. Scott Barrett
  7. Sam Cane
  8. Ardie Savea
  9. Aaron Smith
  10. Beauden Barrett
  11. Leicester Fainga’anuku
  12. Quinn Tupaea
  13. Rieko Ioane
  14. Will Jordan
  15. Jordie Barrett
  16. Akira Ioane
  17. Dalton Papalii
  18. Ethan de Groot
  19. Fletcher Newell
  20. Samisoni Taukei’aho
  21. Folau Fakatava
  22. Richie Mo’unga
  23. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
All Blacks

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