Ellis set for All Blacks recall against Samoa

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has revealed that Crusaders scrum half Andy Ellis is “definitely likely” to play for the All Blacks against Samoa.

Thirty-one-year-old Ellis has not featured for the All Blacks for almost four years but was named as cover in the squad for Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara and Tawera Kerr-Barlow who are unlikely to be available for the July 8 match in Apia.

“I’d say (that is) definitely likely,” Hansen told Reuters in Auckland where the All Blacks have been holding their first training camp of the 2015 season.

“TKB (Kerr-Barlow) is going to play for the Maori, which is three days later, and Aaron Smith and TJ (Perenara) are both involved with their games. I’d suggest he might play.”

Smith and Perenara will both be involved in this weekend’s Super Rugby semi-finals and there is the possibility that they could meet in the final.

Kerr-Barlow has not played yet this season but is making his way back from a serious knee injury that he suffered last year.

TKB will play three club matches and for the Maori All Blacks against Fiji so that national selectors can assess his return to fitness.

“We know he is a good player, we just need to see if he can bounce back,” Hansen said after Kerr-Barlow had been named in the squad.

“If we take our time with him rather than throw him in at the deep end then I think we will see the player we want.”

Ellis has not played for the All Blacks since the 2011 World Cup final. There were reports of him being recalled for the All Blacks’ 2014 end-of-season tour but he was tied up with a contract in Japan.

“Any All Black who gets a recall is normally extremely excited and that’s how he feels,” Hansen said.

“It’s a dream for a lot of people to be an All Black and when you lose that opportunity you have time to reflect on it and understand how much it really meant, so when you get another opportunity I think you’re probably better prepared to make the most of it, so Andy’s excited.”

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