Eight Blues players have been named in the All Blacks wider training group.
Frank Halai, Steven Luatua, Keven Mealamu, Charles Piutau, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, Piri Weepu and Ali Williams are among 38 players selected to attend two training camps ahead of the three Steinlager Series against France.
The two training camps will be held at Mt Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty with the first camp from Sunday 19 May – Tuesday 21 May and the second camp from Sunday 26 May – Tuesday 28 May.
The players attending the camps are as follows:
Note: The Highlanders players named will not attend the first camp as they are currently overseas.
Frank Halai, Steven Luatua, Keven Mealamu, Charles Piutau, Rene Ranger, Francis Saili, Piri Weepu and Ali Williams.
Ben Afeaki, Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Messam and Brodie Retallick.
Beauden Barrett, Dane Coles, Ben Franks, TJ Perenara, Julian Savea, Brad Shields, Conrad Smith, Jeff Toomaga-Allen and Victor Vito.
Dominic Bird, Daniel Carter, Wyatt Crockett, Israel Dagg, Owen Franks, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Tom Taylor and Samuel Whitelock.
Hosea Gear, Andrew Hore, Ma’a Nonu, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Tony Woodcock.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said the two camps would give the All Blacks management team a valuable head start in its early on-field preparations for the three Steinlager Series Tests against France next month.
“The camps will give us the opportunity to prepare a foundation on which we can grow our game throughout the Steinlager Series. As did last year, it will also give us a small window of opportunity to introduce some young players into the ways of the All Blacks and allow both these players and All Blacks management to get to know each other a little better.”
Hansen said while the bulk of the Steinlager Series squad would come from the 38 players going to the camps, it didn’t necessarily mean those players not attending were out of the picture. †He said players’ form would be continually monitored up until the announcement of the All Blacks squad and selection changes made, if required.
The squad for the Steinlager Series will be named on Sunday 2 June. The All Blacks play France in three Tests: at Eden Park, Auckland on Saturday 9 June; AMI Stadium Addington, Christchurch, on Saturday 15 June; and Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth, on Saturday 22 June.