Auckland and Blues prop Charlie Faumuina is the only new face named in the 28-man All Blacks squad for the Investec Rugby Championship.
Faumuina was in the original squad for the series against Ireland but missed out with injury.
He is one of five Blues players included in the squad, alongside Keven Mealamu, Piri Weepu, Tony Woodcock and Ma’a Nonu
The squad is: (with province and Test caps. * denotes a new cap)
|Andrew Hore||Taranaki (65)||Aaron Smith||Manawatu (3)|
|Keven Mealamu||Auckland (93)||Piri Weepu||Auckland (59)|
|Wyatt Crockett||Canterbury (6)||Daniel Carter||Canterbury (87)|
|Charlie Faumuina||Auckland*||Aaron Cruden||Manawatu (11)|
|Ben Franks||Canterbury (18)|
|Owen Franks||Canterbury (34)||
|Tony Woodcock||North Harbour (86)||Tamati Ellison||Otago (2)|
|Ma’a Nonu||Wellington (66)|
|Conrad Smith||Wellington (58)|
|Brodie Retallick||Bay of Plenty (3)|
|Luke Romano||Canterbury (1)||
|Samuel Whitelock||Canterbury (28)||Israel Dagg||Hawke’s Bay (15)|
|Hosea Gear||Wellington (9)|
|Cory Jane||Wellington (31)|
|Sam Cane||Bay of Plenty (2)||Ben Smith||Otago (5)|
|Richie McCaw (C)||Canterbury (106)||Julian Savea||Wellington (2)|
|Liam Messam||Waikato (10)|
|Kieran Read||Canterbury (38)|
|Adam Thomson||Otago (27)|
|Victor Vito||Wellington (14)|
“We are all looking forward to the new Investec Championship and the various challenges that it will bring,” All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said. “But we also know that we will need to step up from where we were in the recent Steinlager Series. We now have the opportunity to take our game to the next level.”
“The three best teams in the world will be playing each other, and with Argentina joining in for the first time, it’s going to be hugely exciting, not only for the teams involved, but for rugby fans as well.”
The key feature of the squad is the selection of prop Charlie Faumuina, who was part of the All Blacks wider training group for the Steinlager Series Tests against Ireland in June, but missed selection then due to injury.
A cornerstone of the Blues forward pack, 25-year-old Faumuina came through the Auckland scrum academy and made his provincial debut for Auckland in 2007, the same year he played for the New Zealand Under 21 team, and his Super Rugby debut in 2009. Primarily a tighthead prop, he can also cover loosehead.
“We would like to congratulate Charlie on his selection. He had to wait a while to get over his calf injury before he could be selected officially in the All Blacks, so it will be exciting for him and his family. He’s an outstanding front rower and we look forward to seeing him play at the next level,” Hansen said.
The squad also sees the return of Hurricanes and Wellington outside back Cory Jane who missed the Steinlager Series with an ankle injury, while Waikato and Chiefs loose forward Liam Messam, who was called into the Steinlager Series squad as an injury replacement, has also been selected.
Meanwhile, an injury replacement for the injured Conrad Smith will be confirmed next week, with 17-Test All Black Sonny Bill Williams the likely player, once arrangements have been finalised.
Players from the All Blacks Steinlager Series squad who have missed out on selection are wing Zac Guildford and prop Ben Tameifuna. Players not considered for selection due to injury include Anthony Boric (neck), Jerome Kaino (shoulder), Colin Slade (leg), Richard Kahui (shoulder) and Ali Williams (knee).
The squad is made up of 16 forwards and 12 backs with a combined total of 879 Test caps and will again be captained by 106-Test All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw, with Daniel Carter his Vice-Captain.
All Blacks – The Investec Rugby Championship match schedule
1. Australia (ANZ Stadium, Sydney, 8.00PM, Saturday 18 August)
2. Australia (Eden Park, Auckland, 7.35PM, Saturday 25 August). Get your tickets from ticketmaster – 0800 111 999
3. Argentina (Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 7.35PM, Saturday 8 September). Get your tickets from ticketek- 0800 842 538
4. South Africa (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, 7.35PM, Saturday 15 September). Get your tickets from ticketdirect – 0800 224 224.
5. Argentina (Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata, 8.10PM, Saturday 29 September)
6. South Africa (FNB Stadium ‘Soccer City’, Johannesburg, 5.00PM, Saturday 6 October)