New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has confirmed a 33-man squad for the upcoming Ruby Championship 2017 tournament that begins later this month.
Julian Savea, who was part of the 2015 World Cup winning All Blacks team has been omitted along with flanker Matt Todd while Aaron Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa and Charlie Faumuina have not been considered for selection after they decided to sign overseas contracts.
Savea, who has been capped 54 times for New Zealand in which he has amassed 46 tries, featured for his team only two times this year against Samoa and the opening game of the Lions. He was subsequently left out of the matchday squad for the final two Tests against Warren Gatland's men.
Savea, who turned 27 on Monday was also dropped for his club Hurricanes' semi-final clash against Lions in the recently concluded Super Rugby 2017 season.
Returning to the squad is hooker Dane Coles, who has recovered from his injury while uncapped Chiefs prop Atu Moli will undergo training with the All Blacks squad during the tournament.
Hansen is wary of the hectic travel involved during the tournament and insisted that some of the senior players will be rested for the game against Argentina in Buenos Aires on last week of September.
“We’ve learnt since the introduction of Argentina that there is a massive travelling component to the championship, which comes at a cost at the end of the year,” he said.
“So we’ll be looking to implement some new strategies to try and overcome that.”
New Zealand will kick-start their campaign with a clash against Australia in Sydney on 19th August.
New Zealand squad for Rugby Championship 2017
Forwards: Kieran Read (c), Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Jerome Kaino, Vaea Fifita, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Joe Moody, Wyatt Crockett, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris
Backs: Ben Smith, Jordie Barrett, Israel Dagg, Waisake Naholo, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Ngani Laumape, Beauden Barrett, Lima Sopoaga, Damian McKenzie, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow