All Blacks name five uncapped players
October 20, 2013
Ardie Savea also joins the squad as an "apprentice player" © Getty Images
New Zealand All Blacks selectors have named five uncapped players in their 36-man squad for the tour of Japan and Europe, namely the Crusaders' trio of Joe Moody, Dominic Bird and Luke Whitelock, who joins 48-cap brother Sam in the party, and Blues winger Frank Halai and Hurricanes scrum-half TJ Perenara.
Richie McCaw, who was a late withdrawal from the third Bledisloe Cup Test victory over Australia on Saturday because of a tight calf, returns to lead the side with vice-captains Kieran Read and Dan Carter, who is named to return from the shoulder injury he sustained against South Africa in mid-September.
The selectors - head coach Steve Hansen, assistant coach Ian Foster and All Blacks legend Grant Fox - also announced that Wellington and Hurricanes loose forward Ardie Savea, 20, the brother of All Blacks winger Julian Savea, would accompany the squad an "apprentice" player. Hansen said the move continued the scheme started this year with up-and-coming hookers brought in to get a taste of the All Blacks' environment.
Enter the Autumn Internationals Fantasy Game © Scrum.com
"The selectors would like to congratulate those players picked in the All Blacks for the first time," Hansen said. "It is always a special moment for any rugby player in New Zealand, and we know they have all worked hard to get here, so it's a proud moment for them and their families."
Hansen said the players and management each were looking forward to the tour and the unique challenges of each Test.
"The aim of the Tour is to further develop our game structures, our skills sets and our individual players," Hansen said. "We will be looking to use the tour to take ourselves beyond where we are at the moment."
The squad will assemble in Auckland on Friday for a two-day camp.
The All Blacks play Japan on November 2, followed by Tests on successive weekends against France, England and Ireland. A group of 27 players, to be named after the camp, will head to Tokyo to prepare for the opening Test, while the nine others will travel to Paris.
All Blacks squad:
Forwards: Dane Coles, Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Joe Moody, Tony Woodcock, Dominic Bird, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Jeremy Thrush, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Steven Luatua, Richie McCaw (captain), Liam Messam, Kieran Read, Luke Whitelock.
Backs: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Dan Carter, Aaron Cruden, Tom Taylor, Ryan Crotty, Ma'a Nonu, Francis Saili, Israel Dagg, Frank Halai, Cory Jane, Charles Piutau, Julian Savea, Ben Smith.