Rugby Championship: No captain named for All Blacks' Rugby Championship squad, as Smith, Whitelock, Mo'unga, Coles stay home

Captain Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith, Dane Coles and Richie Mo'unga won't travel to Australia as part of the All Blacks' 35-man squad for the Rugby Championship.

The trio of Whitelock, Smith and Mo'unga will remain in New Zealand, all expecting children in the coming weeks, while Coles has been battling a calf injury that recently saw him sit out of the All Blacks' two tests against Australia at Eden Park.

Mo'unga's absence leaves Beauden Barrett as the only specialist first-five named in the squad, although Damian McKenzie - listed among the outside backs - is an option in the No.10 jersey.

At hooker, Coles' absence is covered by the trio of Codie Taylor, Asafo Aumua and Samisoni Taukei'aho.

In the halfbacks, TJ Perenara, Brad Weber and Finlay Christie will have the chance to stake their claim for the No.9 jersey in Smith's absence.

Meanwhile, at lock, the quartet of Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu and Tupou Vaa'i have been named.

Surprisingly, coach Ian Foster has not named a captain for the travelling squad.

After the Rugby Championship, the squad will then head to the northern hemisphere for the end-of-year tour, including playing in Europe and the United States.

"We'll be playing ten tests in 12 weeks in both the southern and northern hemispheres, and with COVID-19 travel and quarantine restrictions, this will be a tour like no other for us in the professional era," coach Foster says. 

"We can't wait to get underway and once again represent our country on the world stage." 

The All Blacks will depart for Perth at 6:30pm Thursday.

All Blacks squad

Forwards: Asafo Aumua, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Codie Taylor, George Bower, Ethan de Groot, Nepo Laulala, Tyrel Lomax, Joe Moody, Angus Ta'avao, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa'i, Ethan Blackadder, Akira Ioane, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu

Backs: Finlay Christie, TJ Perenara, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Braydon Ennor, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Will Jordan, Damian McKenzie, Sevu Reece

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