Rugby Championship 2019: All Blacks name 39-man squad

Coach Steve Hansen has named thrilling Crusaders outside backs Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor among four new faces in his first All Blacks squad of the year.

Reece and Ennor join Highlanders five-eighth Josh Ioane and Chiefs flanker Luke Jacobson as the uncapped players in an expanded 39-strong group for the first two tests of the Rugby Championship.

Hansen has dropped a handful of established players, most notably winger Waisake Naholo, flanker Liam Squire and hooker Nathan Harris.

There was also no room for Ma'a Nonu, after the veteran midfield back returned to New Zealand from Toulon this year in a bid to win selection for another World Cup. He was a key member of the victorious teams in 2011 and 2015.

Hansen said Squire had made himself unavailable due to fitness concerns, while others simply missed on form.

Rugby Championship 2019: All Blacks name 39-man squad

"Whilst we know they've been good All Blacks in the past, people have challenged us to say 'you've got to look at me'," he said.

None of the squad's 11 Crusaders players will face the Pumas in Buenos Aires on July 20, as they will be given extra rest after this weekend's Super Rugby final.

That means Reece and Ennor will need to wait for a potential debut against South Africa a week later.

The pair have been among the standout attacking backs in Super Rugby, with Fiji-born Reece scorching to a competition-leading 15 tries.

The squad will be trimmed to 34 after the test against South Africa, heading into twin clashes with the Wallabies in August.

Kieran Read is restored as captain, while cross-code star Sonny Bill Williams retains a midfield spot, despite an injury-plagued year that has forced him to play club rugby in recent weeks to get some miles under the belt.

Brad Weber is recalled at halfback, after a strong Super Rugby campaign, usurping Chiefs team-mate Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.

Hansen said the squad would have numbered 41, if Crusaders pair Ryan Crotty and Scott Barrett hadn't suffered hand injuries, which will sideline them both for at least six weeks.

AAP

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