By 3 News online staff
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has included two new caps in his 32-man squad for the four-test European tour.
Hurricanes hooker Dane Coles and Chiefs halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow have been named in the squad that will play tests against Scotland, Wales and England.
Along with Coles and Kerr-Barlow, Beauden Barrett and Ali Williams have been added to the original 28 players that travelled to South Africa and Argentina for the Rugby Championship.
Halfback Piri Weepu has also been selected ahead of Andy Ellis, while Williams makes the squad despite not playing for the All Blacks since injuring his knee in Christchurch in June.
Barrett has been officially brought into the fold after being used as cover throughout the Rugby Championship.
Hansen said that there had been 29 players used throughout the season – 30 if you include Williams – and the selection of the 32 today is “a reward for how the team’s played and how the individuals have played within the team”.
He says that obviously there’s been a debate over the selection of a fourth lock, with the 75-test veteran Williams chosen because he “brings a huge mount of experience” that the younger players can feed off and learn from.
Hansen described Kerr-Barlow as the “form third halfback” and is one of nine young players used this year.
“This tour’s about us continuing to develop those nine young men,” says Hansen.
When it comes down to hooker and the selection of Coles, he says it came down to a “two horse race” with Hika Elliot.
“The door’s not closed on his (Elliot) opportunities in the future, but we do need to find out a little more about Dane Coles so hence his selection,” says Hansen.
He added that he intends to give game time to all the players during the first two tests against Scotland and Italy, with a full-strength test team to be picked against Wales.
Flanker Adam Thomson has been selected even though he is yet to commit to New Zealand rugby beyond this year. There is speculation Thomson may be on the verge of signing with a Japanese club.
All Blacks European tour squad:
Forwards: Dane Coles, Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore, Owen Franks, Ben Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Wyatt Crockett, Tony Woodcock, Sam Whitleock, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Ali Williams, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Victor Vito, Adam Thomson, Liam Messam Sam Cane
Backs: Piri Weepu Aaron Smith, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Daniel Carter, Aaron Cruden, Beauden Barrett, Ma’a Nonu, Tamati Ellison, Conrad Smith, Ben Smith, Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Hosea Gear, Israel Dagg
Test tour itinerary:
- Scotland, Monday November 12
- Italy, Sunday November 18
- Wales, Sunday November 25
- England, Sunday December 2
source: newshub archive