Wellington - New All Blacks coach Steve Hansen remained loyal to several
out-of-form All Blacks and tapped nine promising newcomers in naming a
training squad of 35 players on Monday.
VIDEO: Steve Hansen names All Blacks squad
The group, including 21 survivors from last year's Rugby World
Cup winning team, will attend two camps before a final squad is chosen
on June 3 for the three home Tests against Ireland next month.
Hansen, who has said he valued the experience of
established players capable of rising to the challenge of Test rugby,
has included Piri Weepu and Ali Williams who have failed to fire this
year for the Blues.
But he has also signalled the likelihood of new faces in his final All Blacks squad.
The training group includes six players from last year's
New Zealand Under-20 side that won the world title including captain
Luke Whitelock who has only started twice for the Crusaders.
The most surprising selection is 20-year-old Ben
Tameifuna who started the year as the back-up prop for the Chiefs and is now their first choice tighthead selection while being
eyed as a possible fill in hooker.
"In the wider training group we have a balance between
proven Test players, in-form Super Rugby players and some talented
young players," Hansen said.
"We have two aims with the selection of the players for
the camps. Our main aim is to begin to prepare a squad to win (the
series) against Ireland.
"Secondly, it gives us the opportunity to introduce and work with some younger, talented players in the All Blacks environment."
Players who were available from last year's All Blacks
but were not chosen include Zac Guildford, Hosea Gear, Jimmy Cowan,
Jarrad Hoeata and Corey Flynn.
Others who are injured or offshore are Mils Muliaina,
Isaia Toeava, Colin Slade, Stephen Donald, Jerome Kaino, Brad Thorn and
Dan Carter has been included although he continues to be
troubled by the groin injury suffered in the World Cup with newcover
Beauden Barrett joining Aaron Cruden as the other flyhalves in the
With Jimmy Cowan out of contention, Aaron Smith and
Tawera Kerr-Barlow emerge as scrumhalf prospects along with the
established Andy Ellis and Weepu.
Luke Romano and Brodie Retallick are two new locks who come into contention to challenge the mis-firing Williams.
New Zealand squad:
Charlie Faumuina, Ma'a Nonu, Keven Mealamu, Piri Weepu, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock
Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden, Richard Kahui, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Brodie Retallick, Ben Tameifuna, Sonny Bill Williams
Beauden Barrett, Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Brad Shields, Conrad Smith, Victor Vito
Daniel Carter, Wyatt Crockett, Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Luke Whitelock, Samuel Whitelock
Tamati Ellison, Andrew Hore, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Adam Thomson