Blues prop Charlie Faumuina is the only new player in the All Blacks 28-man squad for the Rugby Championship.
Faumuina was picked for the June Test series against Ireland after showing impressive form during Super Rugby. However, he missed out because of injury. His versatility in playing both sides of the front row sees him replace Chiefs tighthead prop Ben Tameifuna.
‘We would like to congratulate Charlie on his selection,’ said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. ‘He had to wait a while to get over his calf injury before he could be selected officially in the All Blacks, so it will be exciting for him and his family. He’s an outstanding front rower and we look forward to seeing him play at the next level.’
Sonny Bill Williams was expected to be in the All Blacks mix. But he hasn’t been included for now as the NZRU works around contractual issues over his move to Japan. That is expected to be completed later this week and he’s set to be involved during the Rugby Championship.
Conrad Smith has been selected, but is set to miss the first two Tests because of an eye injury.
Ali Williams misses out on selection after undergoing knee surgery. Other players who drop out from the June Test series squad are Zac Guildford and Beauden Barrett.
The All Blacks squad boasts 879 Test caps. The team will face Auckland and Counties Manukau in warm-up match on Friday.
All Blacks 28-man squad:
Hookers: Andrew Hore, Keven Mealamu.
Props: Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Tony Woodcock.
Locks: Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Samuel Whitelock.
Loose forwards: Sam Cane, Richie McCaw (c), Liam Messam, Kieran Read, Adam Thomson, Victor Vito.
Scrumhalves: Aaron Smith, Piri Weepu.
Flyhalves: Daniel Carter, Aaron Cruden.
Centres: Tamati Ellison, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith.
Outside backs: Israel Dagg, Hosea Gear, Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Julian Savea.