Jimmy Cowan has been omitted from the All Blacks’ 35-man training squad while Piri Weepu has made the cut.
Cowan was considered the All Blacks first-choice scrumhalf at last year’s World Cup in New Zealand, but has struggled to command a starting spot at the Highlanders in 2012. The fact that he will be leaving New Zealand shortly to take up a contract with Gloucester may also have counted against him.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has also left Zac Guildford and Corey Flynn out of the squad, two players who featured at the 2011 World Cup.
Eight youngsters have impressed enough during this year’s Super Rugby competition to receive a call up. Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Luke Whitelock, Sam Cane, Brad Shields, Brodie Retallick and Ben Tameifuna have all made the initial cut, and may be in line for a Test cap when the squad is trimmed to 30 ahead of the first Test against Ireland.
Colin Slade, Jerome Kaino, Anthony Boric and Isaia Toeava are unavailable because of injuries.
‘Our main aim is to begin to prepare a squad to win the series against Ireland; and secondly, it gives us the opportunity to introduce and work with some younger, talented players in the All Blacks environment,’ said Hansen.
‘We will use the time in the camps to work on some of the protocols, expectations and disciplines that are needed to succeed in the All Blacks, plus it will also give us a little bit of training time to work on some new things.’
All Blacks training squad – Charlie Faumuina, Ma’a Nonu, Keven Mealamu, Piri Weepu, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock, Sam Cane, Aaron Cruden, Richard Kahui, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Brodie Retallick, Ben Tameifuna, Sonny Bill Williams, Beauden Barrett, Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Brad Shields, Conrad Smith, Victor Vito, Daniel Carter, Wyatt Crockett, Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Luke Whitelock, Samuel Whitelock., Tamati Ellison, Andrew Hore, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Adam Thomson.