Updated: Jan 24
Written by Max Sharp.
Following the 2021 Rugby Championship campaign, All Blacks veterans, Patrick Tuipulotu and Scott Barrett have returned home to New Zealand. Tuipulotu will miss Super Rugby in 2022, skipping the competition for a season-long deal with Toyota Verblitz, while Barrett has returned to New Zealand for the birth of his first child.
The loss of Tuipulotu and Barrett have opened the door for a returning Samuel Whitelock, while the 20-year-old Chiefs rookie, Josh Lord will come into the squad, coming off the back of a standout season for Taranaki in the NPC.
Lord is set to become the first All Black born in 2001, as well as only the second All Black to be born in the 2000's, following his Taranaki teammate, Tupou Vaa'i; born in 2000. Lord, educated at Hamilton Boys' High School, played 5 games for the Chiefs in his rookie season, in 2021, will provide some grunt in the scrum with his 2.02m, 106kg frame. Lord's debut for the Chiefs was played against the Crusaders, but he still awaits a role as a regular starter for the Chiefs.
Bringing him into the All Blacks at such a young age will be bound to do great things for his career, as it did for all of the other All Blacks locks in 2021, all of whom debuted before their 23rd birthday. Learning off the likes of Brodie Retallick, Samuel Whitelock, as well as other senior All Blacks forwards such as his Chiefs team mate Sam Cane, will provide him with much wisdom for the many years ahead of his career.
Lord, who played for the Chiefs U20's and NZ U20's in 2021, has made 7 turnovers in the 2021 NPC, backing up his outstanding efforts over the ball with an 89% tackle rate, with 39 successful tackles from 44 attempts.
An early career call-up to the national team will put Lord amongst the youngest-ever All Blacks, plus line him up for an international career that could last at least 10 years, provided he continues to improve as a rugby player. Lord will be 30 years old in the 2031 Rugby World Cup, providing him a chance to reach four Rugby World Cup tournaments barring injury, a 34-year-old Lord could even be the All Black captain in the 2035 tournament.