All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has included five uncapped players – hookers Nathan Harris and Liam Coltman, lock Patrick Tuipulotu, half-back TJ Perenara and centre Malakai Fekitoa – in a 35-man wider training squad in the lead up to the three Tests series against England in June. All Blacks veteran Kieran Read was also named despite suffering a concussion that has kept him out of two Super Rugby matches.
The players will attend two three-day All Blacks training camps in Christchurch from May 18-20 and Wellington from May 25-27. Hansen said the two camps would form a massive part of the team’s preparations in the lead-up to the three-match series.
“With players coming from five different Super Rugby teams, it’s important that we get aligned on our game plans and skill sets,” Hansen said. “The challenge the English bring means we will need to be at our very best as quickly as possible. The camps also give the All Blacks Management time to meet and learn in greater details about some of the younger players who have been named.”
The official 31-man squad for the series will be named in Auckland on June 1.
The All Blacks play England at Eden Park, Auckland, on Saturday 7 June; Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, on Saturday 14 June; and Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, on Saturday 21 June.
All Blacks Training Group
- Hookers: Keven Mealamu (Blues), Nathan Harris (Chiefs), Dane Coles (Hurricanes), Liam Coltman (Highlanders).
- Props: Charlie Faumuina (Blues), Tony Woodcock (Blues), Ben Franks (Hurricanes), Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders), Owen Franks (Crusaders).
- Locks: Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs), Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes), Dominic Bird (Crusaders), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders).
- Loose forwards: Jerome Kaino (Blues), Steven Luatua (Blues), Sam Cane (Chiefs), Liam Messam (Chiefs), Victor Vito (Hurricanes), Richie McCaw (Crusaders), Kieran Read (Crusaders) / Luke Whitelock (Crusaders).
- Halfbacks: Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs), TJ Perenara (Hurricanes), Aaron Smith (Highlanders).
- Fly-halves: Aaron Cruden (Chiefs), Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), Colin Slade (Crusaders).
- Midfielders: Ma’a Nonu (Blues), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes), Ryan Crotty (Crusaders), Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders).
- Outside backs: Cory Jane (Hurricanes), Julian Savea (Hurricanes), Israel Dagg (Crusaders), Ben Smith (Highlanders).
Source: ESPN Sports