Rugby: Meet the bolters – All you need to know about the four new All Blacks

The All Blacks squad for the upcoming July tests against Tonga and Fiji have been named – and there were four new names in the team.

Here’s all you need to know about the five bolters.

Ethan Blackadder

Super Rugby team: Crusaders
Position: Back row
Age: 26

A consistent standout from blindside flanker for the Crusaders this season, Blackadder has deservedly forced his way into the congested All Blacks loose forward mix. The 26-year-old, son of former All Blacks lock and Crusaders coach Todd, has brought a relentless physical edge to his defensive duties in particular. The All Blacks want their blindsides to hit and carry hard and this is exactly where Blackadder has put his hand up. Prior to this season frequent injuries stunted his development, restricting him to 10 Super Rugby games – two in 2020 – over the past three years. Blackadder has thrived with consistent game-time this season, and now gets the chance to follow in his father’s footsteps and press his claims at test level.

Finlay Christie

Super Rugby team: Blues
Position: Halfback
Age: 25

The livewire, Scottish-born halfback has endured a rough road over the past two years, having twice overcome nerve damage in his neck that severely compromised his left arm and effectively forced him to learn to pass again. Playing behind a massive All Blacks-laden pack, Christie has become an influential figure for the Blues with his speed to the base and support lines capturing attention. For a small man he’s also a gutsy defender. With TJ Perenara deemed ineligible for the July tests after recently returning from Japan and signing a new contract, the door opened for the All Blacks third halfback spot and in just reward for his consistent contributions for the Blues, Christie has ultimately beaten Mitchell Drummond from the Crusaders to the role.

Ethan de Groot

Super Rugby team: Highlanders
Position: Prop
Age: 22

Raised in New Zealand’s deep south, the form of 22-year-old loosehead prop Ethan de Groot has been a highlight of the Highlanders campaigns this year. De Groot developed as a player at Southland Boys’ High School and rose through the Rugby Southland Academy and age group teams before making his provincial debut for Southland in 2018.He made two appearances off the bench for the Highlanders last year before becoming a feature of the matchday 23 this year, scoring two tries in the ‘Landers win over the Waratahs in Sky Super Rugby Trans Tasman.

Quinn Tupaea

Super Rugby team: Chiefs
Position: Midfield back
Age: 22

Quinn Tupaea announced his arrival on the provincial scene for Waikato in 2018 after starring at Hamilton Boys’ High School and as New Zealand Schools captain. A powerful runner and skilful with ball in hand, he started in 11 of his 12 appearances that season and was named Waikato Emerging Player of the Year. He took his outstanding form in his debut season with the Chiefs in 2020 and was named Chiefs Rookie of the Year. The club has signed him through to 2023. Tupaea also played for the Māori All Blacks against Moana Pasifika last year.

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