All Blacks opt for some fresh faces
May 13, 2012
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen intends to get a look at some of the country's rising stars during two training camps © Getty Images
New Zealand have named a fresh-looking 35-man training squad ahead of next month's three-Test series with Ireland.
Hurricanes fly-half Beauden Barrett, Highlanders scrum-half Aaron Smith, Chiefs No.9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Crusaders flanker and former New Zealand U20s captain Luke Whitelock, Chiefs flanker Sam Cane, Hurricanes flanker Brad Shields, Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick and Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna are among the new faces set to take part in two camps in Auckland and Wellington.
There is no room for recent All Blacks such as Zac Guildford, Hosea Gear, Jimmy Cowan, Jarrad Hoeata and Corey Flynn while in-form Super Rugby players such as Robbie Fruean and Andre Taylor also miss out on selection. Injured players Richard Kahui, Charlie Faumuina and Kieran Read have all been named while Piri Weepu and Ali Williams have both been included despite question marks over their current form.
Coach Steve Hansen, who will trim the squad to 30 players on June 3 ahead of the first clash with Ireland in Auckland six days later, has also been stripped of a host of players who have either moved overseas since the All Blacks' recent Rugby World Cup triumph or are sidelined with long-term injuries including Mils Muliaina, Isaia Toeava, Colin Slade, Stephen Donald, Jerome Kaino, Brad Thorn and Anthony Boric
However, Hansen is still relishing the chance to have some valuable time with a core group of Test players as well as a number of the country's rising stars. "We have two aims with the selection of the players for the camps. Our main aim is to begin to prepare a squad to win the Series against Ireland; and secondly, it gives us the opportunity to introduce and work with some younger, talented players in the All Blacks environment," Hansen said.
"In the wider training group we have a balance between proven Test players, in-form Super Rugby players and some talented, young players. This includes 21 players from the Rugby World Cup squad and, notably, six players from the 2011 Junior World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 20 team.
"We will use the time in the camps to work on some of the protocols, expectations and disciplines that are needed to succeed in the All Blacks, plus it will also give us a little bit of training time to work on some new things which we hope to bring in for the Tests against the Irish."
New Zealand training squad:
Charlie Faumuina, Ma'a Nonu, Keven Mealamu, Piri Weepu, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock, Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden, Richard Kahui, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Brodie Retallick, Ben Tameifuna, Sonny Bill Williams, Beauden Barrett, Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Brad Shields, Conrad Smith, Victor Vito, Daniel Carter, Wyatt Crockett, Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Luke Whitelock, Samuel Whitelock., Tamati Ellison, Andrew Hore, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Adam Thomson.
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