Hansen names five new All Blacks in squad

New Zealand rugby head coach Steve Hansen has named five new All Blacks in
a 41 strong squad ahead of their Test against Samoa, the Rugby Championship
and extra Bledisloe Cup Test.

The new All Blacks in the squad are Crusaders and Canterbury hooker Codie Taylor,
Hurricanes and Taranaki lock James Broadhurst, Highlanders and Southland first
five-eighth Lima Sopoaga, Highlanders and Taranaki winger Waisake Naholo; and
Hurricanes and Manawatu fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Hansen also called up Crusaders and Canterbury prop Nepo Laulala as an injury
replacement for Charlie Faumuina, who has a neck injury, but is expected to
return to rugby near the end of The Rugby Championship. 26-Test All Black and
Crusaders and Canterbury halfback Andy Ellis has also been named as a replacement
player for Tawera Kerr-Barlow who will be released to play some games until
he is eeady to return to international duty.

Halfback Augustine Pulu, first five-eighth Aaron Cruden, hooker Nathan Harris,
loose forward Stephen Luatua and lock Patrick Tuipulotu were all not considered
for selection due to injury.

The squad is made up of 22 forwards (three hookers, six props, five locks
and seven loose forwards) and 19 backs (three halfbacks, four first five-eighths,
five midfielders and seven outside backs) and will again be captained by All
Blacks skipper Richie McCaw.

All New Zealand’s Super Rugby teams are represented with five Highlanders
players, 13 Crusaders, 12 Hurricanes, six Chiefs and five Blues, while 11 ITM
Cup and a Heartland Championship province are represented, led by Canterbury
(13 players) with Wellington (eight); Auckland (five), Taranaki (three), Waikato,
Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu (two each); and North Harbour, Counties
Manukau, Otago and Poverty Bay (one each).

The All Blacks squad boasts an average age of 27 and the unveiling of the
five new All Blacks continues what has been a successful hallmark of the current
All Blacks selection panel, with 33 new players now introduced to the All Blacks
in the last four seasons.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “The selectors would like to congratulate
those new All Blacks we have named today. It is always a proud moment when a
player is named in the All Blacks for the first time and they have all worked
incredibly hard to get here.

“As is always the case with squad selections, we also had to leave out
some players who are unlucky not to be selected. They will get further opportunities
to stake their claims in the Maori All Blacks and Barbarians sides which play
next month.

“We have selected a large squad of 41 players, partly through necessity,
with two New Zealand teams still involved in the Super Rugby competition. But,
more importantly, it also gives us the chance to work with some athletes we
haven’t worked with before and see how they cope at Test level. This will allow
us to make better decisions when it comes to selecting our Rugby World Cup team
in August. I would like to thank New Zealand Rugby and the Board for allowing
us to pick a squad of this size.”

Hansen said 2015 was going to be another exciting year for All Blacks rugby,
with winning the Rugby World Cup and the Bledisloe Cup the two major priorities
for the year.

“As always, our planning is about today, tomorrow and the future. But
our main priority now will be to get this group functioning as its own team
as quickly as possible. With only five games before the Rugby World Cup, it’s
important that we get game plans and other aspects of our environment embedded
as quickly as possible.”

Hansen said the “immediate focus” was preparing for the historic
Samoan Test in Apia on 8 July.

“We are looking forward to taking on that particula

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