All-Time All Blacks XV Nominees - Loose Forwards
Updated: Apr 5, 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.
The last set of jersey numbers to be picked will be the 6, 7 and 8 jerseys, this way we can complete the forward pack with some classy loose forwards! Though The Black Jersey's Instagram account has an audience mostly aged between 18-24, who will remember the players listed here who recently retired; the All Blacks have had a long, proud history of loose forwards. The nominees for these jerseys truly were tough to pick!
* denotes that the player is still active at professional level.
Blindside Flanker Nominees:
Jerry Collins (2001-07), 48 test caps
Kel Tremain (1959-68), 38 test caps
Mike Brewer (1986-95), 32 test caps
Jerome Kaino (2006-17), 81 test caps
Alan Whetton (1984-91), 35 test caps
Alex McDonald (1905-13), 8 test caps
Ardie Savea (2016-21), 59 test caps*
Reuben Thorne (1999-2007), 50 test caps
The black jersey has always been worn by an enforcer-type player on the blindside, this goes back to the former hard-hitting captain, Alex McDonald, 8 of his 41 All Black games were tests. The most famous of the amateur era was Kel Tremain, who is still well-known today. Alan Whetton fit the bill as a 100kg "enforcer" to close out the amateur era, Mike Brewer was similarly built and spent many years as Whetton's teammate.
Jerome Kaino (right), collects the pass from Julian Savea while warming up for a test match in 2016. Photo: Max Sharp.
Thorne played 22 of his 50 tests as captain, before he was supplanted by the fearsome Collins, whose hits still makes highlight reels today, though Collins has since passed away. Kaino, Collins' successor, was New Zealand Rugby's Player of the Year in 2011, while Savea, who is the best New Zealander playing today, has been nominated at 6 as there just wasn't room for him in other jerseys.
Openside Flanker Nominees:
Ian Kirkpatrick MBE (1967-77), 39 test caps
Michael Jones KNZM (1987-98), 55 test caps
Jock Hobbs CNZM (1983-86), 21 test caps
Graham Mourie MBE (1977-82), 21 test caps)
Richie McCaw ONZ (2001-15), 148 test caps
Sam Cane (2012-21), 77 test caps*
John Graham KNZM (1958-64), 22 test caps
Josh Kronfeld (1995-2000), 54 test caps
Yes, we all know McCaw is the greatest forward to play the game, with 148 tests and 27 tries. There has been a very precise line of succession in the 7 jersey over the years though. A very notable player who wore this jersey was John Graham, one of the most decorated All Blacks, in both education and rugby. Kirkpatrick, long-considered one of the greatest All Blacks, played 113 games (39 were test caps).
Max Sharp, then aged 17, meeting Richie McCaw at an airport in 2017.
Kirkpatrick's successor, Mourie, had a respectable career too, 57 of his 61 All Black games were as captain. Hobbs was just as influential before his premature retirement, no need to worry though, Jones proved a worthy immediate successor, though Jones did later play tests at 6 to allow Kronfeld, a very entertaining player, a place as a regular starter. McCaw's understudy from the Hansen era, Sam Cane, now wears the sacred 7 jersey and will likely reach 100 tests if he can avoid further injuries.
Number 8 Nominees:
Thomas Ellison (1893), did not play a test
Taine Randell (1997-2002), 51 test caps
Murray Mexted (1979-85), 34 test caps
Kieran Read ONZM (2008-19), 127 test caps
Zinzan Brooke MNZM (1987-1997), 58 test caps
Cliff Porter (1925-30), 7 test caps
Wayne Shelford (1986-90), 22 test caps
Sir Brian Lochore ONZ (1964-71), 25 test caps
Number 8 Thomas Ellison, the 23rd All Black, was the one who put forward the idea for our team to wear black and a silver fern; leading to our national rugby team's nickname in the first place. Ellison played 83 games for the "New Zealand Natives" and 7 for the All Blacks, though he did not play a test match; they were very rarely played in the 19th century.
The jersey number has gone on to have significant influence since then, Porter scored 16 tries from 41 games in the post-WWI era. Brian "BJ" Lochore, who went on to coach, became the next great 8, playing 46 of his 68 All Black games as captain. Murray Mexted, whose father Graham Mexted, is also a former All Black, went on to play brilliant rugby, while after a very interesting debut to say the least, Wayne "Buck" Shelford reinvigorated the Haka. Shelford's '87 World Cup winning teammate was Zinzan Brooke, who could famously kick drop goals. In recent times, Kieran Read played 52 tests as All Black captain and was World Rugby Player of the year in 2013; Read retired as one of the most-capped players in history.
Honourable Mentions: Andy Leslie, Marty Holah, Matt Todd, Liam Squire