Blues and Auckland lock Ali Williams has been included in the 32 man squad for the All Blacks European Tour to Scotland, Italy, Wales and England.
After missing out on the Investec Rugby Championship through injury, the 75 Test veteran returns to the All Blacks squad where he is joined by three other Blues players in Keven Mealamu, Charlie Faumuina and Piri Weepu.
There are two new caps in the All Blacks squad with Dane Coles and Tawera Kerr-Barlow selected.
The squad is:
Dane Coles – Wellington *
Andrew Hore – Taranaki (72)
Keven Mealamu – Auckland (100)
Wyatt Crockett – Canterbury (7)
Charlie Faumuina – Auckland (4)
Ben Franks – Canterbury (21)
Owen Franks – Canterbury (41)
Tony Woodcock – North Harbour (92)
Brodie Retallick – Bay of Plenty (10)
Luke Romano – Canterbury (8)
Ali Williams – Auckland (75)
Samuel Whitelock – Canterbury (35)
Sam Cane – Bay of Plenty (4)
Richie McCaw (captain) – Canterbury (113)
Liam Messam – Waikato (17)
Kieran Read – Canterbury (45)
Adam Thomson – Otago (28)
Victor Vito – Wellington (17)
Tawera KerrñBarlow – Waikato *
Aaron Smith – Manawatu (10)
Piri Weepu – Auckland (66)
Beauden Barrett – Taranaki (2)
Daniel Carter – Canterbury (92)
Aaron Cruden – Manawatu (18)
Tamati Ellison – Otago (3)
Ma’a Nonu – Wellington (73)
Conrad Smith – Wellington (63)
Israel Dagg – Hawke’s Bay (22)
Hosea Gear – Wellington (13)
Cory Jane – Wellington (38)
Ben Smith – Otago (9)
The key feature of the squad is the selection of new caps 22-year-old Waikato and Chiefs halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow and 25-year-old Wellington and Hurricanes hooker Dane Coles. †Kerr-Barlow and Coles, who both attended All Blacks training camps this year, were in outstanding form for their respective Investec Super Rugby franchises and ITM Cup provinces.
“Firstly, I would like to congratulate Tawera and Dane on their selection. It is always a special occasion when you are picked for the All Blacks and we look forward to welcoming them into the All Blacks family. They are young and exciting players and have shown this year that they look more than capable of stepping up to Test match rugby,” All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said.
The squad also features the return of the All Blacks second-most capped lock, 75-Test veteran Ali Williams, who missed most of the All Blacks season recovering from knee surgery. †Players not considered for selection due to injury include Anthony Boric (neck), Colin Slade (leg) and Richard Kahui (shoulder). The squad is made up of 18 forwards and 14 backs with a combined total of 1,103 Test caps and will again be captained by 113-Test All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw.
Hansen said the All Blacks players and management were looking forward to the Air New Zealand European Tour.
“Tours to the Northern Hemisphere always bring unique challenges and this tour will be no different. †For many of the newer players in the All Blacks it will be the first time they have experienced Test matches in the UK and Europe and they are always big occasions.
“Overall, the team has been very happy with what we have achieved so far this year, but nothing has changed – we are always looking to put in performances we are proud of and we are always looking to improve – and that is what we will be wanting to do on this tour.”
The All Blacks assemble and fly out from Auckland this Thursday with the first Test against Scotland in Edinburgh on Sunday 11 November.