The All Blacks, one of the world’s foremost sporting properties and one of the most successful. A team known for the longevity of its players and fastidiousness in team selection, most rugby fans would be able to name an All Blacks team since 2000 without batting an eyelid, with players such as Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Brodie Retallick, Jerry Collins and Julian Savea featuring heavily in many fans memories. But not all All Blacks were as successful or are as well known as those listed above, and although the All Blacks have been ranked the world’s best team for ten of the last 12 years, there are times in recent memory when the All Blacks were not the force they are considered to be today. For many, that includes the underperforming years of the early-mid 2000s and it is unsurprising that many of the names on this list are from that time period.
1. Leon MacDonald
A rangy utility back with 56 caps and 141 points in international rugby, Leon MacDonald deserves to be better known. An able goal kicker, but unfortunate to find Mils Muliana and Dan Carter blocking his path to the starting XV, Macdonald was a reliable workhorse for the Crusaders for many years and won many Super Rugby titles with the Canterbury outfit, but never experienced the same level of success at international level, playing in two Rugby World Cups but never lifting the trophy.
2. Greg Rawlinson
Largely unheralded with only 4 caps to his name and no points, second-row Greg Rawlinson came into the team in 2006-07 after impressing for the Blues. A traditional, workhorse, lock-forward Rawlinson never made the headlines but saw action against South Africa and Ireland, in the process becoming only the second African-born All Black. Later in his career Rawlinson played for the Worcester Warriors where he played up until 2010.
3. Keith Robinson
Another second-row, but one with a slightly longer All Blacks career than Rawlinson, Keith Robinson gained 12 test caps for the Kiwis between 2002 and 2007, recording no points scored. A member of the Chiefs franchise in Hamilton, Robinson was unfortunate with injuries during his career and having to compete with Chris Jack and Ali Williams for a place in the XV, but was part of the 2007 Rugby World Cup squad.
4. Angus Macdonald
A tough back rower from a Rugby playing family, Angus Macdonald gained 2 caps for the All Blacks in 2005 after impressing for the New Zealand Maori during that year’s Lions Tour. Having played against Wales and Scotland, Macdonald suffered a serious knee injury in 2006 and never regained his place in the All Blacks team, but did later return to Scotland to play briefly for Glasgow.
5. Richard Kahui
The only Rugby World Cup winner on this list having been part of the All Blacks’ 2011 Rugby World Cup squad, Richard Kahui is often overlooked in favour of other wingers such as Sitiveni Sivivatu and Rico Gear, but proved himself in 17 caps for the Kiwis, scoring 50 points. Also capable in the centres, Kahui’s final international cap came during the 2011 Rugby World Cup final and he went on to play in Japan having left the Chiefs in 2013.