Updated: Feb 8, 2022
Written by Max Sharp
The Black Jersey has held an annual vote for an all-time All Blacks XV, the lineup is determined by our followers' votes on Instagram stories. Firstly, followers will be asked to vote on wether they wish to have 22 players or 23 players, a lock or loose forward in jersey number 19, then which kinds of backs they want to wear jerseys 22 and 23.
Polls will kick off with the nominees for the front-row, these polls will be held in the lead-up to the Super Rugby season's start. Let's run through who these nominees will be!
* denotes that the player is still active at professional level.
Loosehead Prop Nominees:
Richard Loe (1987-95), 49 test matches
John Ashworth (1978-85), 24 test caps
Ben Franks (2010-15), 47 test caps
Craig Dowd (1993-2000), 60 test caps
Tony Woodcock (2002-2015), 118 test caps
Steve McDowall (1985-92), 46 test caps
Wilson Whineray (1957-65), 32 test caps
Wyatt Crockett (2009-17), 71 test caps
A difficult jersey to find nominees for. Five of these nominees played tests during the amateur era, although Dowd did play as both an amateur and professional. Rugby became known for it's scrum in the early days, the likes of Whineray anchored a fearsome All Blacks scrum, allowing for the side to capitalise on the work done up-front, creating a high win percentage. Woodcock, Franks and Crockett, all retired from test rugby in the last decade, all earning a surprising amount of caps for the position they play in, props do tend to be more injury prone than players in other positions. If I was selecting this team, I'd start Woodcock in the 1 jersey.
Sean Fitzpatrick (1986-97), 92 test caps
Anton Oliver (1997-2007), 59 test caps
Keven Mealamu (2002-15), 132 test caps
Dane Coles (2012-21), 80 test caps*
Ron Hemi (1953-59), 16 test caps
Andy Dalton (1977-85), 35 test caps
Dave Gallaher (1903-06), 6 test caps
Codie Taylor (2015-21), 66 test caps*
The All Blacks' ball-carrying hookers have been a staple of New Zealand rugby ever since the "Original All Blacks of 1905-06 were led by Dave Gallaher as captain, though Gallaher also featured as a number 8. Half of these nominees featured in the professional era, Mealamu, Taylor and Coles in particular have taken the running hooker plot to the next level, while Anton Oliver and his father Frank are the first father-son All Black captains. The All Blacks' lineout was a strong element of the mid-to-late amateur era, this also reflects in the nominees, Hemi and Dalton were strong predecessors for Fitzpatrick to live up to.
Tighthead Prop Nominees:
Kevin Skinner (1949-56), 20 test caps
Charlie Faumuina (2012-17), 50 test caps
Olo Brown (1992-98), 56 test caps
Carl Hayman (2001-07), 46 test caps
Nepo Laulala (2015-21), 40 test caps*
Greg Somerville (2000-08), 66 test caps
Ken Gray (1963-69), 24 test caps)
Ofa Tu'ungafasi (2016-21), 44 test caps*
Gray and Skinner were stars of the amateur era, setting the tone for New Zealand props. By the start of the professional era, tighthead props did have much higher body fat percentages, but remained the most important scrummagers. This is ongoing today, when Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tu'ungafasi are not involved in an All Black scrum, it's far weaker. In the earlier professional era, Hayman, Somerville, Faumuina and Brown would also be game-changers at scrum time, while they provided confusing, yet effective mobility around the park.
Make sure you click the link to The Black Jersey's Instagram page, on this website, this way you will be able to cast your own vote!
Honourable Mentions: Joe Moody, Norm Hewitt, Owen Franks