New Zealand v England: Steve Hansen names 35-man All Blacks squad
New Zealand v England: Steve Hansen names his 35-man All Blacks squad ahead of three-match tour
Steve Hansen has named a 35-man training squad as part of New Zealand’s preparations for England’s three-match tour in June.
The All Blacks head coach has named five uncapped players among the familiar names expected to face the northern hemisphere’s current number one nation.
Chiefs hooker Nathan Harris and Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman have been drafted in along with Blues lock Patrick Tuipulotu, Hurricanes scrum-half TJ Perenara and Highlanders `centre Malakai Fekitoa.
“With players coming from five different Super Rugby teams, it’s important that we get aligned on our game plans and skill sets,” Hansen said.
“The challenge the English bring means we will need to be at our very best as quickly as possible.
“The camps also give the All Blacks management time to meet and learn in greater details about some of the younger players who have been named.”
Crusaders and All Blacks veteran back-rower Kieran Read has also been named despite missing two consecutive Super Rugby matches with concussion.
With mercurial outside-half Dan Carter still on a sabbatical, the 10 jersey will be contested between Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade.
The training squad will face two three-day All Blacks training camps in Christchurch from 18-20 May and Wellington from 25-27 May as the biggest part of their preparation for the June series.
England will play the world champions at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday 7 June, but will field an understrength team as IRB protocols prevents players playing in the Aviva Premiership final on 31 May at Twickenham from taking part, giving head coach Stuart Lancaster the problem of naming an extended squad to cover the first Test.
Lancaster should be able to call on the Premiership Final contingent for the second test at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday 14 June and their final Test a week later at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
Hansen will name his final 31-man squad in Auckland on Sunday 1 June, just six days before the first Test at Eden Park.
All Blacks 35-man training squad for England’s tour
Forwards: Charlie Faumuina (Blues), Tony Woodcock (Blues), Ben Franks (Hurricanes), Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders), Owen Franks (Crusaders); Keven Mealamu (Blues), Nathan Harris (Chiefs), Dane Coles (Hurricanes), Liam Coltman (Highlanders); Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs), Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes—Wellington camp only), Dominic Bird (Crusaders), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders); Jerome Kaino (Blues), Steven Luatua (Blues), Sam Cane (Chiefs), Liam Messam (Chiefs), Victor Vito (Hurricanes), Richie McCaw (Crusaders), Kieran Read (Crusaders), Luke Whitelock (Crusaders—Christchurch camp only).
Backs: Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs), TJ Perenara (Hurricanes), Aaron Smith (Highlanders); Aaron Cruden (Chiefs), Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), Colin Slade (Crusaders); Ma’a Nonu (Blues), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes), Ryan Crotty (Crusaders), Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders); Cory Jane (Hurricanes), Julian Savea (Hurricanes), Israel Dagg (Crusaders), Ben Smith (Highlanders).