The All Blacks named eight new players to their ranks yesterday as the 51-man Northern Tour squad was revealed. Get to know each one and their journey to selection below.
Auckland's Dalton Papali'i celebrate a try with team mate Jordan Trainor.
Midway through last year, Auckland loose forward Dalton Papali'i was revelling in a second World Under 20 Championship with New Zealand, as a winner in Georgia.
Despite the successes, he remained quiet working on his game and returned to his province to work on his game.
But opportunity came knocking this year as the Blues were hit by a severe injury crisis and Papali'i was signed.
After a limited role with the Super Rugby franchise, the 21-year-old played outstanding rugby for Auckland in this year's Mitre 10 Cup competition topping the tackles count late in the season.
Papali'i also captained his St Kentigern's College First XV and in 2015 led the New Zealand Schools side to a convincing win over their Aussie counterparts.
Bridge said he was blown away when he was approached by the Crusaders for the long-term deal.
Source: 1 NEWS
The 23-year-old outside back has stamped his mark in the successful environment of the Crusaders Super Rugby team.
Born in Gisborne, Bridge moved down to Christchurch six years ago to play club rugby and was selected in the under 20s national team as well as Canterbury for the Mitre 10 Cup.
Fast forward to last year, Bridge had an outstanding Super Rugby debut during the Crusaders' successful 2017 campaign and was named their Rookie of the Year.
That impressive form continued in 2018, finishing second-equal on the leading try scorers list with 15 tries as his team defended their title.
Earlier this year Bridge signed with the club and New Zealand Rugby until 2022.
Brett Cameron of Canterbury makes a run.
21-year-old Canterbury first-five Brett Cameron first came on the radar in last year's Mitre 10 Cup playoffs, making an assured performance in the semi-final in just his third provincial outing.
However, Cameron also made waves in 2014 when he was plucked from Wanganui's small Cullinane College and named in the New Zealand Schools training squad.
After school, Cameron headed south to Lincoln University and into the Canterbury provincial team. He played one match for the Crusaders this year.
Gareth Evans makes a run for the Hurricanes.
Born and bred in the Hawke’s Bay, 27-year-old loose forward Gareth Evans shifted south to Otago University to study and made the Otago provincial side in 2011.
He went on to play three years for the province, becoming known for his abrasive style and huge work rate.
He was drafted into the Highlanders for the 2014 season, making 14 appearances in his debut year, before helping the side to their maiden Super Rugby title in 2015 and victory over the touring British & Irish Lions in 2017.
The younger brother of 2009 All Black Bryn Evans, Gareth transferred to the Hurricanes in 2018 and quickly established himself as the first choice No. 8.
Bryn Hall will face his old teammates in a classic Kiwi derby this weekend.
Source: 1 NEWS
Auckland-born Bryn Hall, 26, has plenty of leadership experience under his belt, having captained his St Peter's College First XV, was co-captain of New Zealand Under 20 in 2012, and North Harbour provincial captain in 2015.
The halfback made his provincial debut for North Harbour in 2012 and strong performances saw him selected for the Blues for the 2013 season.
He spent four years with the Blues before transferring to the Crusaders in 2017 and was part of their Championship-winning season. He also earned selection in the Māori All Blacks during last year's Lions Tour.
Mako player Tyrel Lomax during their Mitre 10 Cup game Tasman v Canterbury.
Tyrel Lomax grew up playing rugby league in Australia, before making the switch to rugby union.
The 22-year-old prop played his first year of Super Rugby for the Melbourne Rebels in 2017, before returning to New Zealand.
He played for the Tasman Mako in last year's Mitre 10 Cup and after a solid debut season was selected as one of 10 new caps in the Māori All Blacks for their tour to Canada and France.
Lomax joined the Highlanders in 2018, making 15 appearances.
Lomax played for Australian schoolboys in 2014 and the Australian U20 side the following year. His father is former Kiwis rugby league prop John Lomax.
Taranaki's Reuben O'Neill (L) with team mate Ben Matwijow celebrate in 2016.
Taranaki prop Reuben O’Neill, 23, has overcome injury and a diabetes diagnosis early in his career to take his rugby to the next level.
O’Neill was selected in the New Zealand Schools side in 2012 and followed that up three years with selection to the Taranaki Mitre 10 Cup squad after successfully returning to rugby from a back injury.
O'Neill was a member of the Taranaki side which upset Canterbury to take the Ranfurly Shield in 2017, alongside All Blacks teammate Angus Ta’avao.
He has continued to shore up the scrum so far this year and his strength and power in the front row has reportedly caught the attention of the All Blacks selectors.
Centre for the defending champions Matt Proctor spoke after his side were drawn to play away in Japan, instead of in front of their own fans.
Source: 1 NEWS
A standout player for both the Hurricanes and the Wellington Lions provincial side, Matt Proctor made his Super Rugby debut in 2013 and was a part of the Hurricanes side that secured their first Super Rugby title in 2016.
His Super season was cut short by injury this year but he returned to captain Wellington’s 2018 Mitre 10 Cup campaign.
Proctor has represented the Māori All Blacks 10 times and his representative career also includes New Zealand Schools and New Zealand Under 20s.