New Zealand head coach Ian Foster has has named a 36-man squad for the upcoming Tests against Fiji and Tonga.
Brodie Retallick makes a comeback in the squad following the end of his stint in Japan while David Havili also makes a return after last playing for the All Blacks in 2017. Loose forward Luke Jacobson and prop Angus Ta’avao also has been recalled in the squad that will be captained by Sam Whitelock in the absence of Sam Cane.
The squad also has four uncapped players in prop Ethan de Groot, loose forward Ethan Blackadder,half-back Finlay Christie and young Chiefs and Quinn Tupaea.
“Firstly, on behalf of the selectors, I want to congratulate all players selected for this Steinlager Series squad, especially, the new All Blacks, Ethan de Groot and Ethan Blackadder, and Finlay and Quinn," said Foster.
“It’s an incredibly special day for them and their families and we look forward to catching up with them when we get into camp this week.
“There will be players who will be disappointed at missing out on selection and we feel for them as well.”
Foster also defended the appointment of Whitelock as the captain and is confident that his experience will benefit the side.
“He’s hugely experienced, not just as a player but also as a leader, and he has great connections with Sam Cane and the leaders in the team as well.
"Our current leadership group is working hard together and we know Sam will lead the team superbly in the Steinlager Series.”
New Zealand will kick-start their campaign with a clash against Tonga on 3rd July in Auckland followed by two-match series against Fiji to be played in Dunedin and Hamilton on 10th and 17th July respectively.
New Zealand squad:
Forwards: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, George Bower, Ethan de Groot, Nepo Laulala, Tyrel Lomax, Angus Ta’avao, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa’i, Samuel Whitelock, Ethan Blackadder, Shannon Frizell, Akira Ioane, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu
Backs: Finlay Christie, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, Braydon Ennor, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Will Jordan, Damian McKenzie, Sevu Reece
Steinlager Series Squad ?? pic.twitter.com/izO1Vl5yqP— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) June 21, 2021