Turning Japanese

Bridge on bench as Hansen opts for exercise in depth-building

Bridge on bench as Hansen opts for exercise in depth-building

Winger/fullback George Bridge, if he gets game time, will follow in the test footsteps of Gisborne-produced players Charlie Ngatai and James Broadhurst, who each played one test in the black jersey.

GISBORNE-born George Bridge’s parents Crispin and Chick are expecting a full house tomorrow night as they host a Japanese party to celebrate their son’s inclusion in the All Blacks 22 for the game against Japan in Tokyo.

“We’d loved to have been there but we only found out the other night he was in the squad and it’s pretty hard to organise a trip so quickly, but we’re having a Japanese party . . . kimonos and all and we’ll be so nervous, we’ll be inside the TV,” said Chic.

“We spoke to George after their last training and he was relaxed but excited.

“He said it had been a pretty intense week learning new calls and everything, but he was feeling good and looking forward to the game.

“I expect he will be nervous closer to the game but once it starts and he gets on, if he does, he’ll be OK. Then maybe one day we’ll get to see him play closer to home.”

Also watching the tomorrow’s test with pride will be Crispin’s parents Bev and Hugh Bridge and Chic’s mother Juliet Hansen, “as well as probably half of Beetham Retirement Village, where they are living”.

“My father (1966 equestrian Olympian Graeme Hansen), if he had been alive, would be so proud. He was George’s biggest supporter, never missed a game and always said he’s going to be an All Black one day.”

The Bridges watched their 23-year-old son play for Canterbury against Auckland in last week’s Mitre 10 Premiership Cup final, which Auckland won 40-33 in extra time.

“He was obviously disappointed with the result but it was a great game and good for Auckland rugby.

Winger/fullback Bridge, if he gets game time, will follow in the test footsteps of Gisborne-produced players Charlie Ngatai and James Broadhurst, who each played one test in the black jersey.

Meanwhile, what has been described as “a second-string All Blacks side” are poised to set a new mark in professional rugby when they face Japan.

Coach Steve Hansen has named two uncapped players in his starting team and another six on the reserves bench for the test at Ajinomoto Stadium.

If they all get on the field it will be the biggest blooding of new caps by New Zealand in the professional era.

It will surpass the seven newcomers used against England at Twickenham in 2002 when coach John Mitchell selected a virtual B team to tour.

All Black coach Steve Hansen has decided to treat the match against the 11th-ranked Brave Blossoms as an exercise in depth-building, with his strongest group due to fly to London to begin preparations for next week’s test against England.


The run-on team are completely changed from that who beat Australia 37-20 in Yokohama last week.
Starting five-eighth Richie Mo’unga is the only player to lace his boots twice in Japan, having come off the bench against the Wallabies.


It is just third time in pro rugby the All Blacks have completely overhauled their XV between tests, having done so twice in 2005 under Graham Henry.


The new caps to start are Blues flanker Dalton Papali’i and outside centre Matt Proctor, who will link with Hurricanes teammate Ngani Laumape in midfield.


The reserves comprise three Canterbury backs who have yet to taste test rugby — halfback Mitchell Drummond, five-eighth Brett Cameron and outside back George Bridge.


Three bench forwards with the same status are Highlanders prop Tyrel Lomax, Highlanders flanker Dillon Hunt and Hurricanes flanker Gareth Evans.


Lomax is a former Australian age-group international.


Drummond and Hunt both played for a mid-week All Black team in France last November.


No.8 Luke Whitelock, who was captain in that game against a French XV, is named test skipper for the first time, following in the footsteps of elder brother Sam.


The most experienced player is hooker Dane Coles, who is making his first test appearance for a year, having recuperated from a serious knee injury.


Despite their under-strength side, the world champions are expected to extend their unbeaten record in official tests against Japan with the 54-6 result in 2013 the smallest win for the All Blacks.

GISBORNE-born George Bridge’s parents Crispin and Chick are expecting a full house tomorrow night as they host a Japanese party to celebrate their son’s inclusion in the All Blacks 22 for the game against Japan in Tokyo.

“We’d loved to have been there but we only found out the other night he was in the squad and it’s pretty hard to organise a trip so quickly, but we’re having a Japanese party . . . kimonos and all and we’ll be so nervous, we’ll be inside the TV,” said Chic.

“We spoke to George after their last training and he was relaxed but excited.

“He said it had been a pretty intense week learning new calls and everything, but he was feeling good and looking forward to the game.

“I expect he will be nervous closer to the game but once it starts and he gets on, if he does, he’ll be OK. Then maybe one day we’ll get to see him play closer to home.”

Also watching the tomorrow’s test with pride will be Crispin’s parents Bev and Hugh Bridge and Chic’s mother Juliet Hansen, “as well as probably half of Beetham Retirement Village, where they are living”.

“My father (1966 equestrian Olympian Graeme Hansen), if he had been alive, would be so proud. He was George’s biggest supporter, never missed a game and always said he’s going to be an All Black one day.”

The Bridges watched their 23-year-old son play for Canterbury against Auckland in last week’s Mitre 10 Premiership Cup final, which Auckland won 40-33 in extra time.

“He was obviously disappointed with the result but it was a great game and good for Auckland rugby.

Winger/fullback Bridge, if he gets game time, will follow in the test footsteps of Gisborne-produced players Charlie Ngatai and James Broadhurst, who each played one test in the black jersey.

Meanwhile, what has been described as “a second-string All Blacks side” are poised to set a new mark in professional rugby when they face Japan.

Coach Steve Hansen has named two uncapped players in his starting team and another six on the reserves bench for the test at Ajinomoto Stadium.

If they all get on the field it will be the biggest blooding of new caps by New Zealand in the professional era.

It will surpass the seven newcomers used against England at Twickenham in 2002 when coach John Mitchell selected a virtual B team to tour.

All Black coach Steve Hansen has decided to treat the match against the 11th-ranked Brave Blossoms as an exercise in depth-building, with his strongest group due to fly to London to begin preparations for next week’s test against England.


The run-on team are completely changed from that who beat Australia 37-20 in Yokohama last week.
Starting five-eighth Richie Mo’unga is the only player to lace his boots twice in Japan, having come off the bench against the Wallabies.


It is just third time in pro rugby the All Blacks have completely overhauled their XV between tests, having done so twice in 2005 under Graham Henry.


The new caps to start are Blues flanker Dalton Papali’i and outside centre Matt Proctor, who will link with Hurricanes teammate Ngani Laumape in midfield.


The reserves comprise three Canterbury backs who have yet to taste test rugby — halfback Mitchell Drummond, five-eighth Brett Cameron and outside back George Bridge.


Three bench forwards with the same status are Highlanders prop Tyrel Lomax, Highlanders flanker Dillon Hunt and Hurricanes flanker Gareth Evans.


Lomax is a former Australian age-group international.


Drummond and Hunt both played for a mid-week All Black team in France last November.


No.8 Luke Whitelock, who was captain in that game against a French XV, is named test skipper for the first time, following in the footsteps of elder brother Sam.


The most experienced player is hooker Dane Coles, who is making his first test appearance for a year, having recuperated from a serious knee injury.


Despite their under-strength side, the world champions are expected to extend their unbeaten record in official tests against Japan with the 54-6 result in 2013 the smallest win for the All Blacks.

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