Six Blues players have been named to attend an All Blacks wider training group ahead of the Investec Super Rugby Championship.
Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Ma’a Nonu, Piri Weepu, Ali Williams and Tony Woodcock are included in the Twenty-eight man squad that will attend the camp in Wellington on Wednesday and Thursday this week.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said the camp would provide valuable preparation time ahead of the Investec Rugby Championship.
“It will allow us to reflect on our last performances in the Steinlager Series and begin the process of getting ready for the Investec Rugby Championship.
“We will mainly be looking to re-establish the way we do things in the All Blacks, and it’ll also give those players who haven’t played much rugby recently, the chance for a good hit-out.”
Hansen said Hurricanes hooker Dane Coles had been included in the wider training group as part of the All Blacks’ on-going search for new talent.
“We already know a lot about Keven Mealamu, Andrew Hore, Corey Flynn and Hika Elliot and now it’s Dane Coles’ chance to come into the All Blacks environment and gives us the opportunity to see him at closer quarters.”
Players from the Chiefs, who are playing in the Investec Super Rugby Grand Final next weekend, will not be attending the camp. The All Blacks Investec Rugby Championship squad will be named on Sunday 5 August.
The players attending the Wellington wider training group camp are as follows:
Blues: Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Ma’a Nonu, Piri Weepu, Ali Williams and Tony Woodcock.
Hurricanes: Beauden Barrett, Dane Coles, Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Conrad Smith and Victor Vito.
Crusaders: Daniel Carter, Wyatt Crockett, Israel Dagg, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Zac Guildford, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Luke Romano and Samuel Whitelock.
Highlanders: Tamati Ellison, Hosea Gear, Andrew Hore, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Adam Thomson.
Meanwhile, media are advised that Mick Byrne has re-joined the All Blacks coaching staff as a Specialist Skills Coach.
“As we all know, Mick has a unique skill set which is invaluable so we are delighted to have him back in the team,” Hansen said.