Three New Players Included In All Blacks Training Squad
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has named three new players in his wider training squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship.
Highlanders pair Richard Buckman (utility back) and Tom Franklin (lock), along with Chiefs prop Atu Moli, are the three new inclusions in the 34-man squad at a training camp in Christchurch.
Hansen said the new faces have been included because they had the opportunities to bring them in while the Crusaders were away for the Super Rugby Final in South Africa.
“Rather than waste the opportunity we’ve seized it with both hands and brought people in that we want to find a little more about, other people that we think aren’t far from getting in the squad,” he told the All Blacks’ official website.
Hansen also revealed that Chiefs utility back Damian McKenzie is being looked at as an outhalf.
“Damian [McKenzie] is a very, very good rugby player,” added Hansen.
“We see him as someone who could do that role [coming off the bench at first five-eighths] once we’ve seen him play some more rugby at 10.”
The final squad for the Rugby Championship will be named on August 7.
All Blacks training squad:
Forwards: Dane Coles, Nathan Harris, Kane Hames, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Dominic Bird, Tom Franklin, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Akira Ioane, Jerome Kaino, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire
Backs: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Lima Sopoaga, Richard Buckman, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Charlie Ngatai, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett, Rieko Ioane, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Julian Savea, Ben Smith