Five members of this year’s Blues have been named in the All Blacks squad for the My Republic Northern Tour, announced today by coach Steve Hansen.
The Blues players comprise hooker Keven Mealamu, prop Charlie Faumuina, lock Patrick Tuipulotu, loose forward Jerome Kaino and outside back Charles Piutau.
Mealamu is set to extend his remarkable record of 120 Tests for the All Blacks, which is second only in All Blacks history to captain Richie McCaw.
Kaino cemented his place despite a foot injury keeping him out of Saturday’s final Bledisloe Cup match against Australia, and will resume as a key part of the All Blacks forward machine, now with 54 Tests to his credit.
Faumuina extended his record to 23 Tests, coming on as a replacement at Brisbane on Saturday night, as did Tuipolotu for his fourth test, recovering from a yellow card offence to play strongly in the final 10 minute blitz as the All Blacks came back to score the one point win.
Piutau enjoyed his 11th Test also as a replacement, proving strong on defence and a handful on attack on the right wing in the second half.
The All Blacks selectors opted for five locks to allow for the returned of injured Luke Romano, and as a consequence there was no place in the mix for 14-Test Blues flanker-lock Steven Luatua.
The team leave next week with the first historic against USA at Soldier Field, Chicago on Saturday 1 November.
The All Blacks team is:
Dane Coles (Wellington, 24 Tests)
Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty, 1)
Keven Mealamu (Auckland, 120)
Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury, 33)
Charlie Faumuina (Auckland, 22)
Ben Franks (Hawke’s Bay, 37)
Owen Franks (Canterbury, 63)
Joe Moody (Canterbury, 5)
Brodie Retallick (Bay of Plenty, 33)
Luke Romano (Canterbury, 16)
Jeremy Thrush (Wellington, 4)
Patrick Tuipulotu (Auckland, 5)
Samuel Whitelock (Canterbury, 60)
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty, 21)
Jerome Kaino (Auckland, 54)
Richie McCaw ñ captain (Canterbury, 134)
Liam Messam (Waikato, 35)
Kieran Read (Canterbury, 69)
Victor Vito (Wellington, 24)
TJ Perenara (Wellington, 7)
Augustine Pulu (Counties Manukau *)
Aaron Smith (Manawatu, 36)
Beauden Barrett (Taranaki, 25)
Daniel Carter (Canterbury, 100)
Aaron Cruden (Manawatu, 35)
Ryan Crotty (Canterbury, 9)
Malakai Fekitoa (Auckland, 6)
Conrad Smith (Wellington, 83)
Sonny Bill Williams (Counties Manukau, 19)
Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay, 43)
Cory Jane (Wellington 52)
Charles Piutau (Auckland, 11)
Julian Savea (Wellington, 28)
Ben Smith (Otago, 35)