Blockbusting second five-eighth Ngani Laumape has bolted into the All Blacks squad for the three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions.
Laumape and fellow-Hurricanes back Jordie Barrett are the two uncapped players who will prepare for a one-off Test against Samoa on June 16, eight days out from the first Lions Test, also at Eden Park.
Captain Kieran Read is one of several players currently recovering from injury included in the 33-man squad, prompting coach Steve Hansen to name five players on standby.
A surprise inclusion was first-choice hooker Dane Coles, who hasn’t played because of persistent headaches and a calf issue.
Former Warriors NRL player Laumape is rewarded for a dominant Super Rugby campaign, having scored 14 tries to lead the competition tally alongside Hurricanes midfield comrade Vince Aso.
After three seasons with the Warriors the 24-year-old returned to rugby last year. Despite his form, he wasn’t regarded as a likely selection in coach Steve Hansen’s squad.
Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images
His promotion comes at the expense of strong midfield candidates Malakai Fekitoa and George Moala.
Uncapped Crusaders centre Jack Goodhue, 21, is the lone injury cover for the backline.
The Barrett family makes history, with exciting fullback Jordie’s inclusion alongside first five-eighth Beauden and lock Scott representing the first time three brothers have won inclusion in the same All Blacks squad.
Jordie Barrett travelled as an “apprentice” on last year’s northern hemisphere tour.
The British & Irish Lions will focus on improving their discipline and offload prevention as they look to bounce back from their defeat to the Blues on Wednesday evening.
The British & Irish Lions must stop “monster” centre Sonny Bill Williams to stand any chance of beating New Zealand, according to Rhys Webb.
“Jordie has been in outstanding form, he has a skillset which is complete and has a great running and kicking game,” Hansen said.
“Ngani too has been impressive throughout the Super season and has forced his way in through commanding performances.”
Hansen says the squad was “by far the toughest” he has picked for some time and some quality players have missed out.
In the loose forwards, Read and flanker Liam Squire are recovering from broken thumbs while Jerome Kaino is overcoming a knee complaint.
To cover them, Matt Todd and the uncapped Akira Ioane are named on standby, with the in-form Steven Luatua not required.
Brodie Retallick (head knock) and Scott Barrett (knee and ankle) are among the four locks, with Vaea Fifita the player on standby, nipping ahead of Patrick Tuipulotu in the pecking order.
There are few surprises in the front row aside from Coles’ inclusion. Liam Coltman is the injury cover.
With Hansen naming a predictable three-pronged cover at both halfback and first five-eighth, it left little room for outside backs.
Israel Dagg (knee) and Ben Smith (ankle and head knock) have both been under injury clouds, making the versatile Rieko Ioane’s selection important.
There is no room for in-form Chiefs game-breaker Damian McKenzie.
Ryan Crotty is included in the midfield mix despite a rib injury, alongside Sonny Bill Williams, who shone in the Blues’ defeat of the tourists on Wednesday.
All Blacks squad:
Backs: Ben Smith, Jordie Barrett, Israel Dagg, Waisake Naholo, Julian Savea, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Ngani Laumape, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Cruden, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Tawera Kerr-Barlow.
Forwards: Kieran Read (capt), Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Jerome Kaino, Liam Squire, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Charlie Faumuina, Joe Moody, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Dane Coles, Codie Taylor, Nathan Harris.
On standby: Jack Goodhue, Akira Ioane, Matt Todd, Vaea Fifita, Liam Coltman.
Source Article from http://www.espn.co.uk/rugby/story/_/id/19573603/all-blacks-name-strong-squad-british-irish-lions-series
Barrett trio named in All Blacks squad
www.espn.co.uk – RUGBY