New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen included three debutants in his 33-man squad to face France in June’s three-Test series.
Crusaders flanker Jordan Taufua, Highlanders flanker Shannon Frizell and Chiefs half-back Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi are the new faces for the All Blacks following Sunday’s announcement.
Uncapped trio Tim Perry, Richie Mo’unga and Jack Goodhue are also in the squad which will go head-to-head against France, starting June 9 in Auckland.
“It’s always a very special time being selected for the All Blacks for the first time and the players and their families can be justifiably proud of all the hard work they have done to reach this point,” Hansen said.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) May 20, 2018
The All Blacks – who will also host the French in Wellington (June 16) and Dunedin (June 23) – will be led by veteran Sam Whitelock next month in the absence of injured captain Kieran Read.
“He’s one half of the best locking combination in the world and one of the best players on and off the park,” Hansen said. “He has a cool head under pressure and the support of the players and management.
“In saying that, we’re blessed with a number of other leaders in our group and the expectations are that they’ll continue to lead both on and off the park in their actions, and in doing so make Sam’s job that little bit easier.”
The All Blacks will also welcome back 95-Test crop Owen Franks and Hurricanes back Nehe Milner-Skudder from injury as Akria Ioane missed out, while the likes of Dane Coles and Israel Dagg were not considered due to fitness issues.
All Blacks squad:
Forwards: Luke Whitelock, Liam Squire, Shannon Frizell, Ardie Savea, Jordan Taufua, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock (captain), Owen Franks, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Jeff To’omaga-Allen, Tim Perry, Joe Moody, Nathan Harris, Codie Taylor.
Backs: Jordie Barrett, Ben Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Rieko Ioane, Jack Goodhue, Sonny Bill Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Ryan Crotty, Richie Mo’unga, Damian McKenzie, Beauden Barrett, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith.
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta