A mixture of world-class experience and exciting younger talent are the features of the All Blacks squad anounced by selectors Steve Hansen, Ian Foster and Grant Fox for the three-Test June Series against France.
The key feature in the All Blacks’ squad for the June test Series against France is the selection of three new All Blacks: Highlanders and Tasman loose forward Shannon Frizell, Crusaders and Tasman loose forward Jordan Taufua and Chiefs and Taranaki halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.
Also selected are Crusaders teammates Tim Perry, Richie Mo’unga and Jack Goodhue, who played non-Test matches on last year’s Vista Northern Tour and are yet to make their Test debuts.
Meanwhile, making a welcome return to the All Blacks are 95-Test cap prop Owen Franks and Hurricanes outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder who both missed the back half of last year’s All Blacks season through injury.
As well as the 33-man squad, two other players will assemble with the squad. Highlanders hooker Liam Coltman, will come in as paternity cover for Nathan Harris, whose partner is expecting a baby during the Steinlager Series; while Blues loose forward Akira Ioane will assemble as well, with the All Blacks selectors wanting to take the opportunity to continue his development at international level.
With Kieran Read injured, the All Blacks selectors have named 96-Test lock Sam Whitelock as Captain for the Steinlager Series, with fullback Ben Smith and loose forward Sam Cane named as Vice-captains. Whitelock has captained the team once before, against Wales in the last Test of 2017.
As well as Read, other players not considered for selection due to injury were Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Kane Hames, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Patrick Tuipulotu and Israel Dagg.
All Blacks squad:
Props: Joe Moody, Owen Franks, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Tim Perry
Hookers: Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris
Locks: Sam Whitelock (c), Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett
Loose forwards: Sam Cane (vc), Liam Squire, Jordan Taufua, Ardie Savea, Luke Whitelock, Vaea Fifita, Shannon Frizzel
Halfbacks: Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi
First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mou’unga
Midfielders: Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams
Outside backs: Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith (vc)
Injury cover: Akira Ioane, Liam Coltman