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All-Time All Blacks XV Nominees - Outside Backs

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.


After votes for the front-row and locks are collected, it's safe to say that votes will need to be held for the outside backs soon after, the 11, 14 and 15 jersey numbers are easily the hardest to pick! In fact, they are so hard to pick, voting re-counts may even be necessary! Despite all the talent elsewhere in the team across time, the All Blacks' outside backs have always been the players to put bums in seats.


Key:

* denotes that the player is still active at professional level.


Left Wing Nominees:

  1. Joe Rokocoko (2003-10), 68 test caps

  2. Jonah Lomu (1994-2002), 63 test caps

  3. Waisake Naholo (2015-18), 26 test caps*

  4. Bernie Fraser (1979-84), 23 test caps

  5. Ron Jarden (1951-56), 16 test caps

  6. Julian Savea (2012-17), 54 test caps*

  7. Sitiveni Sivivatu (2005-11), 45 test caps

  8. Terry Wright (1986-91), 30 test caps

The "most sacred All Blacks jersey" on the left wing, has produced icons for generations. The most famous, easily Jonah Lomu, who had the size of a flanker, yet sprinted 100m in less than 11 seconds. The 2010's saw the jersey get occupation from Savea and Naholo, both of whom had similar playing styles to Lomu. Lomu's successor, Joe Rokocoko, scored 27 tries from his first 23 tests, while Sitiveni Sivivatu gave Rokocoko a run for his money through the 2000s. Predecessors to these modern ethletes were Terry Wright, Bernie Fraser and Ron Jarden, all of whom were try-scoring machines with incredible pace for amateur athletes. Wright, Fraser and Jarden would still be incredible if they were given the training of today.


Right Wing Nominees:

  1. Stu Wilson (1977-83), 34 test caps

  2. Israel Dagg (2010-17), 66 test caps

  3. Sir Bryan Williams (1970-78), 38 test caps

  4. Cory Jane (2008-14), 53 test caps

  5. Sir John Kirwan (1984-94), 63 test caps

  6. Jeff Wilson (1993-2001), 60 test caps

  7. Doug Howlett (2000-07), 62 test caps

  8. Will Jordan (2020-21), 13 test caps*

All Blacks legend Stu Wilson, a former captain, played 28 tests off the right wing in the 70's and 80's, having inherited the 14 jersey from Bryan Williams; Williams debuted aged just 19. Another 19-year-old debutant for the All Blacks was John Kirwan, who at 6'3 and 92kg was the game's first true power winger, though he retained speed and agility. As the game has become professional, All Black coaches have enjoyed selecting fullbacks capable of playing at 14, thus the rise of Jeff Wilson (also a professional cricketer), Doug Howlett and Cory Jane. Israel Dagg is in a similar situation, he played most of his tests at 15, but his best were at 14. Will Jordan, the incumbent, looks to be on the path to join these fellow players in the "legends" category.


Fullback Nominees:

  1. George Nepia (1924-30), 9 test caps

  2. Fergie McCormick (1965-71), 16 test caps

  3. Ben Smith (2009-19), 84 test caps

  4. Beauden Barrett (2012-21), 101 test caps*

  5. Mils Muliaina (2003-11), 100 test caps

  6. Kieran Crowley (1985-91), 19 test caps

  7. Don Clarke (1956-64), 31 test caps

  8. Bob Scott (1946-54), 17 test caps

The fullback position has changed a lot with the times. The "first All Black superstar" was George Nepia, who many historians cite as a pioneer of New Zealand rugby. The position then evolved into the jersey number of reliable goal kickers, namely Scott and Clarke. McCormick followed this lead, as did Crowley, who is now Italy's Head Coach. The position has now evolved into a team's last line of defence, a supreme asset in the skillset of Muliaina, Smith and Barrett, who are all placed amongst the nation's highest-ever try-scorers.


Honourable Mentions: Christian Cullen

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