New Zealand announce training squad ahead of Rugby Championship

Steve Hansen has named the training squad ahead of the Bledisloe Cup opener
Steve Hansen has named the training squad ahead of the Bledisloe Cup opener

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has named a 29-man training squad that will take place in Christchurch for the next two days.

The squad does not contain any players from Crusaders, who will be hosting Lions in the final of the Super Rugby season on Saturday.

Hooker Dane Coles is included despite remaining on the sidelines for nine months after rupturing knee ligaments during a Test against France in Paris, though his availability for the first two games of the tournament is uncertain.

Sonny Bill Williams was also named in the training squad but Hansen admitted that the star centre will not be considered for the Bledisloe Cup clashes against Australia as he continues his battle with a shoulder injury.

The squad also consists of two uncapped players - halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and number eight Akira Ioane.

New Zealand will kick-start the Rugby Championship 2018 tournament with a clash against Wallabies in Sydney on 18th August before the two teams meet once again on 25th August in Auckland.

New Zealand training squad:

Backs: Jordie Barrett, Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Ngani Laumape, Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.

Forwards: Luke Whitelock, Akira Ioane, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Shannon Frizell, Vaea Fifita, Jackson Hemopo, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Nathan Harris.

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