Otago players fail to make All Blacks

Josh Ioane training before the North v South game on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
Josh Ioane training before the North v South game on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
For the first time in the professional era, Otago has no players in an All Black squad.

New All Blacks coach Ian Foster named a 35-man squad yesterday and there was not one player from Otago.

No-one was selected from Southland either.

Ever since the game went professional in late 1995, an Otago player has been picked in the All Black squads.

But with 84-test All Black Ben Smith having retired from the international game, and both Liam Coltman and Josh Ioane missing out, no-one from the province was included.

In 1988, when the game was still amateur, no Otago player was selected in the squad to take on Wales in a two-test series in New Zealand.

But starting with the likes of John Timu and Mike Brewer, going through to Smith and co over the past couple of years, every All Black squad has had an Otago player.

Ioane was unlucky as the selectors preferred to use Damian McKenzie as its third option at first five-eighth while also covering fullback.

Hooker Coltman has had limited chances this year for the Highlanders and appears to have fallen down the pecking order.

Otago lock Josh Dickson can count himself somewhat hard done by. Dickson was in fine form this year before breaking his leg a couple of months ago.

With a real lack of tall timber around, Dickson, who is one of the best lineout forwards in the country, may well have got the call-up. But he is not fit, although he is hoping to get back to full fitness in the middle of the Mitre 10 Cup.

The Highlanders have a limited contribution.

Just halfback Aaron Smith and loose forward Shannon Frizell have made the squad.

Lock Pari Pari Parkinson has had ankle surgery and is not expected to play again this season, so he was not even a contender.

The Crusaders contribute 11 players and the Blues 10.

The bonus for Otago is that Ioane and Coltman will now be available for the Mitre 10 Cup.

For all the buzz around the squad and its seven new caps, games and dates have yet to be confirmed.

A decision is expected some time this week.

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