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Why 'All Blacks' to reduce NZ team for NOC week at Tokyo Olympics



Not all blacks were reluctant to represent New Zealand's seven at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

While four Super Rugby players have been released from their clubs to be allowed to join the NZ Seven after the Miter 10 Cup, all blacks have accepted an invitation from the coach of seven, Clark Lidlaw, to add an Olympic gold medal to their CV. .

Whole wing of the "blacks", Rico Joane, is a former HM-Seven star who played in the Rio Olympics but is unlikely to be in Tokyo next year.

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Whole wing of the "blacks", Rico Joane, is a former HM-Seven star who played in the Rio Olympics but is unlikely to be in Tokyo next year.

Although high performance NZ Rugby boss Mike Anthony did not say which blacks were on Lidlaw's wish list, it is likely that the fastest speeds such as Rijeka Joane, Seville Rice and Bridgebridge Bridge would be among those approaching.

The selection process for Tokyo 2020 began in September last year when letters were sent to players who were invited to attend the meeting.

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"At that point many of them were turned off when we got answers from either the players or their agents," Anthony confirmed.

Lidlaw, who was unavailable for comment Thursday, then knew he had to look elsewhere for talent.

Oakland winger Caleb Clarke will move on to the seventh season after the Miter 10 Cup season.

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Oakland winger Caleb Clarke will move on to the seventh season after the Miter 10 Cup season.

Super Rugby players Caleb Clarke (Blues), Etena Nanai-Suthero (Chiefs), Salessi Rajas (Hurricanes) and Scott Gregory (Highlands) have quit their clubs to move on to the seventh campaign in 2019/20.

"At the end of the day they (all blacks) have decided they want to direct their energy elsewhere, given the challenges at the end of the year and training and so on," Anthony added.

"They made that choice pretty early in the process. So they shared it with us, which allowed us to focus on the group we wanted to be a part of. "

In 2016, all blacks Sonny Bill Williams and Liam Mesam were selected by former coach Gordon Titians to travel to Rio, where the team lost to eventual Fiji winners in the quarter-finals.

The tournament advantage was a messy saga, with a large number of all-blacks like Ben Smith, Bedouin Barrett and Ardi Savage reducing the chance of playing in Rio.

At one point it bordered on a farce, with Savaa having a change of heart during the Super Rugby season – much to the disgust of the Tethians.

The Tétjans later described his shock decision as a "goose in the chest", believing that Savea changed his mind because someone in NZ rugby got worse in his ear.

Tietjans later lifted the ugly saga cover with a release in his autobiography.

"Here's a guy who just a few weeks ago told me how much he enjoys the environment and how excited he is to get into the best physical shape for the Olympics," Tetyans wrote.

"Now he was telling me he was refocusing on the fifteenth match. I don't need to ask him for an explanation, so I wished him luck and left it at that. "

Anthony confirmed that Rugby didn't want a repeat of this awkward situation; that was why he wanted to give Lidlaw a clear picture of where he stood in terms of being able to pick players.

"Obviously there were some lessons to make sure we communicated well with key stakeholders well and early," Anthony said.

Anthony gives no specific reasons why the players of "all blacks" refused to be made available.

But with a new coach appointed to replace Steve Hansen after the World Cup, it is likely that all blacks will be wary of sending the wrong message to his replacement by making them unavailable.

"It (the decision) is down to the players," Anthony repeated. "We never needed to talk too much about next year, they know where things sit.

"Not only with the changes of coaches, but with the number of players who go away and the opportunities presented to them whether it be with their club or the ABS.

"I'm sure they will have a lot of balance to this … and they made a choice and they came to that decision. And let us know in advance what is a good thing."


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