4 new caps in All Blacks squad for northern tour
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — League convert Matt Duffie and hooker Asafo Aumua have been named among four uncapped players in a 37-man All Blacks squad to play tests in Britain and France next month.
Winger Duffie played for the Melbourne Storm in Australia's National Rugby League and had one test for the Kiwis before switching and playing for North Harbour province and Auckland-based Blues in Super Rugby.
The 20-year-old Aumua has been the star of New Zealand's national provincial championship this season for his power, mobility and defense.
The other newcomers are 29-year-old prop Tim Perry and Crusaders center Jack Goodhue, who have both trained with the All Blacks this season.
Props Owen Franks and Joe Moody, wingers Israel Dagg and Nehe Milner Skudder and utility back Jordie Barrett are injured while lock Brodie Retallick was unavailable for personal reasons.
Fullback Ben Smith is taking an extended break from rugby and was also not considered for the tour which features matches against the Barbarians, a French XV, France, Scotland and Wales.
Head coach Steve Hansen called the tour party, named Monday, "a talented squad made up of experienced players and a large group of newer All Blacks."
The squad is a further step in the development of an All Blacks team to defend the World Cup in Japan next year. New Zealand has played poorly throughout the season, losing to the British and Irish Lions and Australia, and some regeneration seems necessary.
Hansen said the All Blacks had specific aims on tour.
"Firstly, we want to play attractive ruby that we can be proud of and, of course, winning is part of that," he said. "But, just as importantly, we will be re-establishing the processes that allow us to do this.
"Secondly, we have another opportunity to expose our young players to test rugby. While we've won the Rugby Championship and retained the Bledisloe Cup, the last couple of months has also enabled us to introduce that large group of younger players to international rugby and, in doing so, grow their understanding of what's required to prepare and perform at the top level."
Hansen said the tour allowed New Zealand to expose more young talent to test rugby "where, history tells us, players grow and get better.
"So this tour will complete a season of building depth and experience which, in the long run, will only benefit the team."
Hansen said a third aim of the tour was to enjoy touring the northern hemisphere "and it's different cultures."
He said six players who have had heavy workloads this season — captain Kieran Read, hooker Dane Coles, prop Wyatt Crockett, lock Sam Whitelock and midfielders Anton Lienert-Brown and Sonny Bill Williams — will not play in the Barbarians match but will stay in New Zealand for an extra few days and join the All Blacks team later in Britain.
In addition, five players have been named to play for the Barbarians at Twickenham on Nov. 4 before joining the All Blacks for the French leg of the tour. They are scrumhalf Mitchell Drummond, flyhalf Richie Mo'unga, lock Dominic Bird, backrower Dillon Hunt and prop Atunaisa Moli.
After the Barbarians, New Zealand faces France on Nov. 11, the French XV on Nov. 14 in Paris, Scotland on Nov. 18 and Wales on Nov. 25.
New Zealand squad:
Hookers: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Nathan Harris, Codie Taylor. Props: Wyatt Crockett, Kane Hames, Nepo Laulala, Tim Perry, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ofa Tu'ungafasi. Locks: Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Whitelock. Backrowers: Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Matt Todd. Scrumhalves: Tawera Kerr-Barlow, T.J. Perenara, Aaron Smith. Flyhalves: Beauden Barrett, Lima Sopoara. Midfielders: Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams. Outside backs: David Havili, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, Damian McKenzie, Waisake Naholo, Seta Tamanivalu.