Watch: Vaea Fifita, Sam Cane don't skip leg day, deliver brutal set of front-squats

All Blacks duo Vaea Fifita and Sam Cane certainly didn't skip leg day at the team's gym session in Cardiff this morning, taking part in a gruelling set of front-squats.

The All Blacks' youngster still hit the gym this morning, after being ruled out of facing Wales. Source: 1 NEWS

Who knows what the back-row duo are up to here. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's a reminder that every team we come up against will hope to play the game of their lives," Sam Cane said. Source: 1 NEWS

The All Blacks coach wasn't in the mood to talk about Welsh coach. Source: 1 NEWS

The pair of flankers, both of whom started in the 22-17 win over Scotland last week and will most likely retain their places for the final Test of the year on Sunday, put in a mighty performance in the gym in preparation to face Wales.

The forwards are looking in fine shape ahead of this week's Test against Wales. Source: 1 NEWS


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Bolters galore: Get to know the eight rookies in the All Blacks' end-of-year tour squad

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.

Dalton Papalii

Auckland's Dalton Papali'i (C celebrate a try with team mate Jordan Trainor (R during the Lions vs Auckland Mitre 10 Cup rugby match at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Thursday the 4th of October 2018. Copyright Photo by Marty Melville / www.Photosport.nz
Auckland's Dalton Papali'i celebrate a try with team mate Jordan Trainor. Source: Photosport

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.

George Bridge

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

Brett Cameron of Canterbury during the Mitre 10 Cup rugby match, Canterbury v Manawatu, Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand, 6th September 2018.Copyright photo: John Davidson / www.photosport.nz
Brett Cameron of Canterbury makes a run. Source: Photosport

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

Hurricanes reserve Gareth Evans in action during the Super 15 Rugby match - Chiefs v Hurricanes played at FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand on Friday 13 July 2018.

Copyright photo: © Bruce Lim / www.photosport.nz
Gareth Evans makes a run for the Hurricanes. Source: Photosport

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

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.

Tyrel Lomax

Mako player Tyrel Lomax during their Mitre 10 Cup game Tasman v Canterbury. Lansdowne Park, Blenheim, New Zealand. Friday 17 August 2018. ©Copyright Photo: Chris Symes / www.photosport.nz
Mako player Tyrel Lomax during their Mitre 10 Cup game Tasman v Canterbury. Source: Photosport

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.

Reuben O’Neill

Taranaki's Reuben O'Neill (L) with team mate  Ben Matwijow celebrate their win during the Mitre 10 Cup rugby match between Taranaki and Auckland at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth on Thursday the 13th of October 2016. Copyright Photo by Marty Melville / www.Photosport.nz
Taranaki's Reuben O'Neill (L) with team mate Ben Matwijow celebrate in 2016. Source: Photosport

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.

Matt Proctor

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.


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Nehe Milner-Skudder, Akira Ioane headline inexperienced Maori All Blacks squad for Americas tour

The Māori All Blacks' squad to tour North and South America next month has been named with five players named yesterday's All Blacks squad also being selected this morning.

Head Coach Clayton McMillan has selected a 27-strong squad for the three-Test tour with five players featured in the All Blacks' wider Japan squad featuring in his team.

Prop Tyrel Lomax, lock Jackson Hemopo, halfback Bryn Hall, midfielder Matt Proctor and winger Nehe Milner-Skudder will all join the the team later for the South American leg of the tour after the complete their commitments in Japan.

Akira Ioane also features in the squad after failing to make the cut for the All Blacks' 51-man squad.

McMillan said the departure of some experienced players offshore, and dual duties with the All Blacks, created an opportunity for several new faces.

"We’re looking at almost 10 debutants which you would expect after some players have moved on," he said.

"Some of these debutants have had incredibly strong seasons with their provinces in Mitre 10 Cup, and their Super Rugby clubs, so we are excited to see what they will bring on this tour."

There are nine new faces in the squad; hooker Robbie Abel, locks Isaia Walker-Leawere and Pari Pari Parkinson, loose forwards Hoani Matenga, Billy Harmon, and Mitchell Karpik, first five-eighth Joshua Ioane, midfielder Matthew Landsown and outside back Jonah Lowe.

McMillan said they have all proved earned their spots with their recent form.

"Josh Ioane was with the Highlanders, and with Otago he demonstrates he is at the forefront of all the action, including playing an integral role in Otago’s successful Ranfurly Shield challenge, and, like Otere (Black) who has been strong for Manawatū, he is very accurate with his goalkicking.

"Pari Pari has to be the tallest lock running around in New Zealand rugby at the moment and he’s been a stand out for Tasman.

"We’ve got a great mix in the loose forwards – including the experienced Reed Prinsep and Akira Ioane who will bring explosive power to the loose forward mix. Along with the new guys (Hoani Matenga, Billy Harmon and Mitchell Karpik) they’re a young group but they’ve got some physicality."

The squad is assembling next week in the Bay of Plenty before their departure from Auckland International Airport next Sunday 28 October.

Their first Test is on Sunday November 3 against USA at 12pm NZT in Chicago.

Maori All Blacks perform the Haka during the Maori All Blacks v NZ Barbarians match at Eden Park in Auckland Source: Photosport


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Black Ferns mix veterans with fresh faces as squad named for end-of-year tour of USA and France

The Black Ferns have announced their squad for their upcoming November Tour with three new players getting called into the team.

Head coach Glenn Moore named his squad this morning to play in the triple-header Test against the USA in Chicago as well as two Tests in France next month.

Moore said backs Ayesha Leti-I'iga (Wellington), Kilisitina Moata'ane (Otago) and Natahlia Moors (Auckland) received the call-up after stellar Farah Palmer Cup seasons.

Moore said the trio possessed everything a coach wanted in a back; explosive speed, tenacity and great footwork.

"They've all stood out in the FPC and all three players deserve their selection. This trio will add a lot of firepower to our backline and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can achieve in the Black Ferns environment."

Also in line to make their Black Fern debuts are Joanah Ngan-Woo, Marcelle Parkes and Monica Tagoai who were all part of the squad for the two-Test series against Australia.

Black Ferns Sevens players Theresa Fitzpatrick and Alena Saili were unavailable for selection due to Black Ferns Sevens commitments, but Stacey Waaka is included in the squad as a utility back.

"We are thrilled to have Stacey with us. She is a fantastic athlete who always makes an impact on the field and thrives in our environment."

Fiao'o Faamausili will captain the side while Selica Winiata and Kendra Cocksedge have been named as co-vice captains.

Moore said the squad has plenty to gain from the mix of veterans and fresh faces.

"We are continuing our strategy of including a mix of experienced and new players.

"We want to give younger players an opportunity to be in the Black Ferns environment and develop their skills so by the time the 2021 World Cup comes around we have a broad base of outstanding athletes to select from."

The Black Ferns begin their tour at Soldier Field in Chicago against USA on November 4 at 6am NZT.

Black Ferns

Forwards: Eloise Blackwell, Les Elder (nee Ketu), Fiao'o Faamausili (c), Aldora Itunu, Linda Itunu, Pip Love, Charmaine McMenamin, Aleisha Nelson, Joanah Ngan-Woo*, Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate, Marcelle Parkes*, Jackie Patea-Fereti, Leilani Perese, Aroha Savage, Charmaine Smith, Cristo Tofa

Backs: Chelsea Alley, Kendra Cocksedge, Krysten Cottrell, Kiritapu Demant, Ruahei Demant, Ayesha Leti-I’iga*, Kilisitina Moata’ane*, Natahlia Moors*, Kristina Sue, Monica Tagoai*, Stacey Waaka, Renee Wickliffe, Selica Winiata

Black Ferns' Stacey Waaka takes on the Wallaroos defence at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Wallaroos v Black Ferns, Bledisloe doubleheader. ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. 18th August 2018. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Black Ferns' Stacey Waaka takes on the Wallaroos defence at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Source: Photosport


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Watch: Smiling assassin Damian McKenzie adds another tool to arsenal, nails goal-kicking with both feet

Damian McKenzie appears to have refined another attacking tool in his already impressive repertoire after sharing footage on social media of his goal-kicking skills - using both feet.

The 23-year-old, who is famous for his cheeky grin when he kicks, posted videos on Instagram of him practicing the art in Wanaka with pin-point accuracy as he hit a pole using both his left and right foot.

"Always finding ways to get better as a player," he said.

"No goal posts to kick at, so had to improvise a little. Aim small miss small they reckon. Could kick all day with this backdrop."

The skill drew the attention of multiple global sport icons, with NRL star Angus Crichton, former Wallaby Quade Cooper, cricketer AB de Villiers and fellow rugby players Vince Aso and Liam Squire all quick to praise his efforts.

The All Blacks first-five used a pole instead of goal posts as a target – and still nailed it. Source: Damian McKenzie / Instagram


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