Five new faces in All Blacks squad

Date published: June 21 2015

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In-form Highlanders Waisake Naholo and Lima Sopoaga have been named in New Zealand's 41-man squad for the upcoming Samoa Test, Rugby Championship and extra Bledisloe Cup Test.

In total there are five new players included in the group with Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor, Hurricanes lock James Broadhurst and Hurricanes full-back Nehe Milner-Skudder also named.

Meanwhile, Crusaders prop Nepo Laulala has also been named as an injury replacement for Charlie Faumuina, who has a neck injury, but is expected to return to rugby near the end of The Rugby Championship. 

26-Test All Black and Crusaders scrum-half Andy Ellis has also been named as a replacement player for Tawera Kerr-Barlow who will be released to play some games until he is eeady to return to international duty.

Players not considered for selection due to injury were Chiefs scrum-half Augustine Pulu, fly-half Aaron Cruden, hooker Nathan Harris, Blues loose forward Steven Luatua and lock Patrick Tuipulotu.

The squad is made up of 22 forwards and 19 backs and will again be captained by Richie McCaw.

The All Blacks squad boasts an average age of 27, with 33 new players now introduced to the national setup in the last four seasons.

"As is always the case with squad selections, we also had to leave out some players who are unlucky not to be selected. They will get further opportunities to stake their claims in the NZ Maori and Barbarians sides which play next month," said All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen 

"We have selected a large squad of 41 players, partly through necessity, with two New Zealand teams still involved in the Super Rugby competition. But, more importantly, it also gives us the chance to work with some athletes we haven't worked with before and see how they cope at Test level. This will allow us to make better decisions when it comes to selecting our Rugby World Cup team in August. I would like to thank New Zealand Rugby and the Board for allowing us to pick a squad of this size."

Hansen said the "immediate focus" was preparing for the historic Samoan Test in Apia on 8 July, adding it would be "a pretty special occasion."

Hansen confirmed the team to play Samoa would not include any players from any New Zealand teams which made it through to the Super Rugby Final.

"It may even mean we possibly have to bring in some extra players in certain positions, but we will wait and see how the Super Rugby finals unfold.

"Following the Samoa Test, Argentina, South Africa and Australia will again bring their own unique strengths to each contest and we look forward to playing them over the weeks ahead."

The All Blacks squad will assemble on Auckland's North Shore on Wednesday this week for a three-day camp minus the 18 players in the Hurricanes and Highlanders, who will be preparing for this weekend's Super Rugby semifinal matches. 

Following the camp this week, the All Blacks will re-assemble in Auckland on Wednesday 1 July to prepare for the Test against Samoa.

New Zealand squad:

Forwards:

Hookers
Dane Coles – Hurricanes / Wellington (27)
Hikawera Elliot – Chiefs / Poverty Bay (3)
Keven Mealamu – Blues / Auckland (123)
Codie Taylor – Crusaders / Canterbury *

Props
Wyatt Crockett – Crusaders / Canterbury (27)
Charlie Faumuina – Blues / Auckland (20)
Ben Franks – Hurricanes / Hawke's Bay (31)
Owen Franks – Crusaders / Canterbury (57)
Joe Moody – Crusaders / Canterbury (8)
Tony Woodcock – Blues /North Harbour (110)

Locks
James Broadhurst – Hurricanes / Taranaki *
Brodie Retallick – Chiefs / Bay of Plenty (36)
Luke Romano – Crusaders / Canterbury (17)
Jeremy Thrush – Hurricanes / Wellington (11)
Samuel Whitelock – Crusaders / Canterbury (62)

Loose forwards
Sam Cane – Chiefs / Bay of Plenty (22)
Jerome Kaino – Blues /Auckland (56)
Richie McCaw (captain) – Crusaders / Canterbury (137)
Liam Messam – Chiefs / Waikato (40)
Kieran Read – Crusaders / Canterbury (72)
Matt Todd – Crusaders / Canterbury (2)
Victor Vito – Hurricanes / Wellington (26)

Backs:

Scrum-halves
Tawera Kerr-Barlow – Chiefs / Waikato (15)
TJ Perenara – Hurricanes / Wellington (11)
Aaron Smith – Highlanders / Manawatu (38)

Fly-halves
Beauden Barrett – Hurricanes / Taranaki (28)
Daniel Carter – Crusaders / Canterbury (102)
Colin Slade – Crusaders /Canterbury (17)
Lima Sopoaga – Highlanders / Southland *

Centres
Ryan Crotty – Crusaders / Canterbury (13)
Malakai Fekitoa – Highlanders / Auckland (8)
Ma'a Nonu – Hurricanes / Wellington (94)
Conrad Smith – Hurricanes / Wellington (85)
Sonny Bill Williams – Chiefs / Counties Manukau (23)

Outside backs
Israel Dagg – Crusaders /Hawke's Bay (46)
Cory Jane – Hurricanes / Wellington (48)
Nehe Milner-Skudder – Hurricanes / Manawatu *
Waisake Naholo – Highlanders / Taranaki *
Charles Piutau – Blues /Auckland (14)
Julian Savea – Hurricanes / Wellington (33)
Ben Smith – Highlanders / Otago (38)

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