Savea dumped as All Blacks look to Bledisloe

9:09 AM BST

Julian Savea is the major omission from the All Blacks’ 33-man squad for the Rugby Championship, while Nehe Milner-Skudder has been welcomed back into the Test fold.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen unveiled his squad on Monday with Savea and outstanding Crusaders back-rower Matt Todd the major casualties, the flanker losing out to Savea’s brother, Ardie, as Sam Cane’s back-up just as he had for the British & Irish Lions series.

Julian Savea has paid the price for some indifferent Super Rugby form which saw him relegated to the bench for the Hurricanes semifinal loss to the Lions in Johannesburg. Ironically, Savea’s Hurricanes teammate Milner-Skudder is the beneficiary of his axing while prop Nepo Laulala is the new face named among the forwards.

Milner-Skudder hasn’t featured for the All Blacks since the 2015 Rugby World Cup final with his entire 2016 season cruelled by injury.

Charlie Faumuina, Aaron Cruden and Malakai Fekitoa were the other players not named on Monday who featured against the Lions, the trio having all signed to play in Europe over the 2017/18 northern season.

Nehe Milner-Skudder of New Zealand runs on to a pass in the Rugby World Cup 2015 match between New Zealand and Argentina at Wembley StadiumĀ 2015 Jean Catuffe/2015 Jean Catuffe

“For us, it’s case of re-establishing ourselves and building on our good work from last year and during the recent DHL New Zealand Lions Series,” Hansen said. “There were some clear things learnt in the Lions Series and this is a great chance for us to implement those; to continue to grow our skill execution and the mental side of our game, and develop our leadership and the leadership group.

“The first two Bledisloe Cup matches will set the tone, as we know the Australians will throw everything at us, while we’re expecting the South Africans and Argentinians to be as bruising and physical as always.

“We’ve learnt since the introduction of Argentina that there is a massive travelling component to the Championship, which comes at a cost at the end of the year, so we’ll be looking to implement some new strategies to try and overcome that.”

New Zealand

Forwards: Dane Coles, Nathan Harris, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire

Backs: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Lima Sopoaga, Ryan Crotty, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett, Israel Dagg, Rieko Ioane, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith, Damian McKenzie

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