Rugby World Cup 2019: Nine All Blacks released to play Mitre 10 Cup

Rieko Ioane headlines a list of nine All Blacks players released for the third round of the Mitre 10 Cup. 

The upcoming round of provincial rugby is the last chance players will have to impress All Blacks selectors, before the 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup is announced on August 28. 

Left-winger Ioane, who was dropped for George Bridge for the second Bledisloe Cup test, will likely play for Auckland when they host Bay of Plenty at Eden Park on Saturday. 

Bridge scored one of the All Blacks' five tries, as they ran away 36-0 winners over Australia, meaning Ioane, who has struggled in the Blacks jersey this year, will need a convincing performance in the blue-and-white hoops.

Other All Blacks players released are Brad Weber, Liam Coltman, Josh Ioane, Vaea Fifita, Braydon Ennor, Atu Moli, Jackson Hemopo and Luke Jacobson.

Halfback Weber will turn out for Hawkes Bay in Thursday's game against Otago, which is likely to feature hooker Coltman and first-five Josh Ioane for the southerners.

Loose forward Fifita and outside back Ennor are available for Wellington and Canterbury respectively, when they meet in the capital on Friday night.

Prop Moli will go up against lock Jackson Hemopo when the Tasman Mako host Manawatu in Blenheim, on Saturday

Also on Saturday, loose forward Jacobson, who has struggled with concussion symptoms, will line up for Waikato, when they host Counties Manukau.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen also insists Tasman forward Liam Squire is still in World Cup contention, if he feels ready to return to test rugby.

Squire asked not to be selected for the All Blacks' Rugby Championship squad and has played in both of Tasman's games this season. 

"Yeah, he is," replied Hansen, on Squire's availability. "But it's whether he wants to be considered or not, that's the key thing."

First five Richie Mo'unga is expected to be named in the 31-man squad, despite injuring his shoulder. 

"Richie's shoulder looks like an AC joint issue," Hansen added. "Whilst it's not long term, he'll be sore for a couple of weeks... hopefully, no more."

If Mo'unga is still struggling, Hansen hinted that Ione would likely play in the All Blacks' final World Cup warm-up against Tonga. 


Join us on September 7 for live updates of the All Blacks v Tonga