New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has named four new players in the 39-man squad for the opening two rounds of the upcoming Rugby Championship tournament.
Chiefs back-row Luke Jacobson, Highlanders fly-half Josh Ioane and Crusaders outside backs Braydon Ennor and Sevu Reece are the debutants in the squad that also has two more uncapped players in Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua and Chiefs prop Atu Moli.
“On behalf of the selectors, we want to congratulate the four new All Blacks named today – Luke, Josh, Braydon and Sevu. They’ve all performed to very high levels this year and played some outstanding rugby," said Hansen to the official website of the All Blacks.
It’s a special time being named in the All Blacks for the first time and they and their families can be proud of what they’ve achieved. We also congratulate the returning All Blacks and commiserate with those players who haven’t been named. As always, history has shown us opportunities will arise.
“It’s really exciting bringing the team together and we’re all looking forward to starting the work towards this year’s goals. We’re going to try and do something that’s never been done before and that’s to win three Rugby World Cups in a row.
"However, that’s not a given. We’re going to have to be hungry for success and we’re going to have to work incredibly hard and smart to achieve this,” he said.
“Whilst recapturing the Rugby World Cup and the Bledisloe Cup are two of the end goals for the year, we have to deal with the here and now, which is getting ready to face two quality oppositions in Argentina and South Africa.”
Meanwhile, Ryan Crotty, Scott Barrett, Tim Perry and Damian McKenzie are unavailable for selection due to injuries while Liam Squire has declared himself unavailable.
The squad excluding players from Crusaders, who will compete in the Super Rugby final will assemble in Auckland for a four-day camp.
The All Blacks will take on Argentina and South Africa in the opening two rounds of the tournament on 21st and 27th July respectively.
New Zealand squad:
Forwards: Asafo Aumua (Hurricanes/Wellington), Dane Coles (Hurricanes/Wellington), Liam Coltman (Highlanders/Otago), Codie Taylor (Crusaders/Canterbury), Owen Franks (Crusaders/Canterbury), Nepo Laulala (Chiefs/Counties Manukau), Joe Moody (Crusaders/Canterbury), Atu Moli (Chiefs/Tasman), Angus Ta’avao (Chiefs/Taranaki), Karl Tu’inukuafe (Blues/North Harbour), Ofa Tuungafasi (Blues/Auckland), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs Hawke’s Bay), Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues/Auckland), Samuel Whitelock (Crusaders/Canterbury), Jackson Hemopo (Highlanders/Manawatu), Sam Cane (Chiefs/Bay of Plenty), Vaea Fifita (Hurricanes/Wellington), Shannon Frizell (Highlanders/Tasman), Luke Jacobson (Chiefs/Waikato), Dalton Papalii (Blues/Auckland), Kieran Read (Crusaders/Counties Manukau), Ardie Savea (Hurricanes/Wellington), Matt Todd (Crusaders/Canterbury)
Backs: TJ Perenara (Hurricanes/Wellington), Aaron Smith (Highlanders/Manawatu), Brad Weber (Chiefs/Hawke’s Bay), Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes/Taranaki), Josh Ioane (Highlanders/Otago), Richie Mo’unga (Crusaders/Canterbury), Jack Goodhue (Crusaders/Northland), Ngani Laumape (Hurricanes/Manawatu), Anton Lienert-Brown (Chiefs/Waikato), Sonny Bill Williams (Blues/Counties Manukau), Braydon Ennor (Crusaders/Canterbury), Jordie Barrett (Hurricanes/Taranaki), George Bridge (Crusaders/Canterbury), Rieko Ioane (Blues/Auckland), Sevu Reece (Crusaders/Waikato), Ben Smith (Highlanders/Otago)